The perfect example of an abundant life.
What would you do if you knew today was your last?
As a nine-year-old, this wasn’t just a hypothetical question to consider, but a reality I faced daily.
After being burned on 100% of my body in a gasoline explosion, I was given less than a 1% chance to survive the first night. Although I survived that first night and the five months in hospital that followed, the specter of death remained ever-present during that time.
Never was it more real, though, than the nights before surgeries.
A severely burned patient’s skin will never grow back on its own. So doctors are charged with taking skin from one part of the body, called a donor site, and covering the rest of the body with it. In my case, this was extremely difficult, dangerous and time consuming because the only part of my body suitable was my scalp. This meant that more than a dozen times skin was taken from my scalp and transplanted to cover, piece by piece, the rest of my body.
Because of my weakened condition, the additional stress of surgery and blood loss presented the very real prospect that the next surgery could be my last.
With this in mind, my parents would make the evening before surgeries extremely special. They’d bring me a gift, my siblings would visit, we’d eat pizza, down milkshakes, and stay up late. We’d do our very best to ignore the painful reality before us. The focus was on me.
That’s how I spent my nights when I thought they might be my last.
How would you want to spend yours?
Would you have a party for hundreds? Toasts offered, music playing, slideshow running?
Would you have an intimate gathering of family? Enjoy a favorite meal with loved ones and share the remarkable, funny and sacred stories that only your family knows, that only your family gets?
Or would you be even more reflective? Maybe a long walk in nature. Praying, reflecting, waiting on that first hint of dawn. Waiting in anticipation, fear, faith, hope?
My friends, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know the exact date of our death. We can imagine where we might go, what we might do, how we might feel, and what we might say. But for us, it’s just a guess, simply imagination.
But last Thursday I was reminded how Jesus chose to spend his last night when he knew it was the end. He knew he’d been betrayed. He knew perfectly the unimaginable rejection, loneliness, struggle and suffering certain to come.
Knowing that the end was near, that the very reason for his birth was about to be perfectly achieved, he brought together his closest friends. He sat with them. He prayed with them. He broke bread with them. He shared drink with them. He talked with them.
In other words, he did the normal stuff of life with them.
And then the unexpected happened.
He got up from the table. He took a bowl of water, wrapped a towel around his waist, and bent down before them. One by one, their Rabbi, their Teacher washed their feet. His focus, until the end, was always on others, always on serving, always revealing love in action.
My friends, as a child I enjoyed big parties before every surgery. It was all about me.
Yet Jesus uses one of the final moments of his life, not to mask anxiety or receive gifts, but to harness the significance of the moment by reminding his friends one more time what real victory, true celebration, and an abundant life looks like.
His example was less about how to spend the last day of our lives, and much more a spectacular reminder on how we are called to live each and every day leading up to it.
This is your day. Live Inspired.