What would I really want to say, if only given one more chance in this life to say it?
That’s what the event-organizer on the telephone asked me. And would I come to tell an audience?
I’ve written millions of words over the years, depositing them into thousands of news stories, hundreds of blog posts, a few dozen magazine articles and most recently, one book.
But if I had to pick just fifteen minutes worth of words? One final time to say what really mattered? NOT an easy task.
I’ve come to learn this much, though: the very best words will probably never make it to the front page, might never lead a newscast, and may or may not find their way between the covers of a book.
The most important words — the ones that can really change everything — are the ones we speak to God, to our children, our grandchildren, our hurting neighbor, the grieving widow, … and the man who asked me for my hand in marriage. We have a choice: We can speak condemnation or celebration into the hearts of others — and into the hearts of our very own selves.
What if — when the girls interrupt my carefully executed plan today with another request to braid hair or paint fingernails, while I’m trying to write that 15-minute talk — what if my last words were ones that were laced with irration rather than affection?
If I knew today’s words were my last, would I:
- harp about the lost library books,
- complain about this never-ending rain,
- or lob muttered annoyances when I look at myself wearing last summer’s capris?
Or would I speak words to others — and to myself — that echo God’s habitual chorus over us:
- You are utterly cherished,
- divinely loved,
- wildly graced by a King.
That’s Truth that could change absolutely everything.
So this is what I’d want to say:
1 – You, my friend, are more loved than you ever dared imagine … loved enough that your Savior died two kinds of deaths: one that brought Him to this world and another that saved us from it.
2 – You are enough. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. We all face some really big “not enoughs” in this life. Those not-enoughs are fierce and stubborn. Be stubborn-er.
3 – Live life forward, but know that you might only be able to understand it backwards. That’s what Søren Kierkegaard said, and I know it to be true. Some folks say, “never look back,” but I have come to believe that the rear-view mirror offers us a unique perspective to see where God was at work all along.
4 – We could simply exist, or we could actually live. Pick the Living Part. And you don’t have to find out you’re dying to choose the better way.
5 – Small is the new big. The world says super-size your order, your platform, your bank account, your clout, your voice. But Jesus says, “Humble yourself.” Let’s all be like Zacchaeus: The only reason he climbed higher was so that he could get a better look at Jesus.
6 – Let. It. Go. When we belong to Christ, honest to goodness, we are free to make mistakes. I’m preaching this one to myself every day, and I might have to say it until I breathe my last. But I want to live secure in Whose I am, rather than who I’m trying so hard to be.
7 – Get thyself outdoors. God brushes earth alive, coloring it with proof that He is infinitely grand and good. Sure, I find God in my Bible, at my country church, in my messed-up little heart … but I also find Him performing magic in the out of doors. His world reminds me that the steadfast Lord is shouting down through the universe: “You are loved. You have nothing to fear today. For I am with You. I know what you need today, child. And as a bonus, did you happen to see what I made for you this morning?”
8 – Grace is for real. God really does love us no matter what, and He really can’t stop loving us. You can’t out-love God, and you can’t out-run Him. He loves us through every detour, wrong turn, ugly choice — even the dumb stuff we are yet to do. Yep. I needed to know that today.
9 – Get honest. It makes the rest of us know we’re not alone, and not as crazy as we thought we were up in our own little noggins.
10 – There really is a finish line. And God is already there. Just think, when you cross that line, your Maker might just take you by the arm and whisper in your ear, “Come with me. I have some people I want you to meet. Your life made such a difference.”
I am speaking tonight in Orange City about “Last Words.” Could you say a prayer for me? Microphones and podiums make my hands and heart tremble!
YOUR TURN: What would you say if you were given one last opportunity to speak?