What would you do differently if you knew when you were going to die?
Last week, I spoke at Revolve from 2 Kings about a ruler named Hezekiah. When Hezekiah was 39 years old, God told him through the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die from a disease any day now. Hezekiah wept bitterly and begged God to heal him. God showed Hezekiah kindness and said that he would lengthen his days for another 15 years.
Around that same time, some of the other kings in the region started sending envoys with their regards for the sick king. One such messenger came from a nation called Babylon. Hezekiah was pleased to see him and after listening to the well-wishes from his contemporary king, he gave the envoy a tour of every nook and every cranny in the kingdom. He showed them all his treasures, his jewels, his gold, let them take the Rolls out for a spin, take a ride in the helicopter, and gave them a post-it note with all of his safe combinations.
After they left, God spoke to Hezekiah again through Isaiah as if to say, “Hey sillyhead, what are you doing?” He warns Hezekiah that those same people who just got the tour are one day going to come back, ransack the city, and steal all those treasures he just flaunted.
What do you think Hezekiah’s response would be? Begging God like he did when he was sick? Nope. He simply shrugs his shoulders and says (paraphrasing), “Well, if that’s what God wants it’s fine by me. I’ll be dead anyway.” Without a seemingly second thought, he marches along, enjoying his final 15 years.
When Hezekiah dies, his son seems completely ill-prepared to rule. Whereas Hezekiah was a good king (not a perfect king, but a good king) who trusted in God and stood up for what was right, his son is a terrible king. He makes terrible choices, fills the streets with the blood of innocents, sacrifices his own child to a pagan god and so on and so forth.
This got me thinking: why didn’t Hezekiah try a little harder to prepare his son? He knew when he was going to die, and it was as if he just ignored it, lived selfishly, and went about his merry way. That comment he made when the Babylonian envoy left seemed to be his perspective towards a lot of things even though the clock was ticking on his life.
What about me? What would I change tomorrow if I knew I only had 15 years left? Well, I’ve been chewing on this question for two weeks, and here are some of my thoughts.
First, I would be more intentional with my faith. I would spend more time enjoying God in the day to day. I would read and memorize the Bible more (with other people too!), journal my thoughts and prayers with more consistency, and try to see the sovereign hand of God in everyday life. I would be bolder sharing my faith with people around me, more patient with those who disagree or are wayward, and not waste my time on peripheral side issues. I would take more risks, be more generous, and find more satisfaction in God rather than ‘stuff.’
Second, I would be more present with loved ones. I wouldn’t view my kids as distractions from the tasks I am ‘supposed to be getting done right now.’ I would have more dance parties, play dress-up, go on more family vacations, use less technology, and abandon some of my own hobbies to enjoy theirs instead. I would spend more time praying with my wife, showering her with affection, holding her hand, and slowing down. I would prepare my family to live, passing on the little bit of wisdom I have garnered over the years. I would give my friends permission to stop by anytime, be less busy, have more BBQs, let things be a little messier and enjoy my relationships.
Third, I would cling less tightly to things that don’t matter. I wouldn’t worry about needing a bigger house, a newer car, the most cutting edge technology, or fast wifi. I wouldn’t care a lick about pop-culture news or whatever ‘first-world problem’ is taking center stage this week. I would check my email less, but write more. I would give more money away. I would save more money to help my kids as they age. I would spend less money on myself.
I’m out of space, but it’s safe to say that I would do lots of things differently - at least I hope that I would. Who knows, maybe I would be short-sighted just like Hezekiah, but I hope not. Here’s the thing though: it really could be any day, couldn’t it? Maybe I should change even though I don’t know the exact number of my days.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).