A well-known sociologist shared about a sociological study in which 50 people over the age of 90 were asked one question: “If you could live your life all over again, what would you do differently?” It was an open-ended question, and a wide range of answers came from these senior citizens. However, three answers constantly re-emerged and dominated the results of the study. They reflected the heartfelt regrets of these senior citizens who had very little time and energy left to do what they wished they could’ve done better. And neither could they turn back the clock.
Experience is going through life on your own, but wisdom is learning from someone else’s experience. Let’s take a look at these three areas briefly and glean some wisdom from them as these are keys to living a fruitful and fulfilled life that God has intended.
1. If I could live my life over again, I’d reflect more.
If 2017 had been a “hurried year” for you and you felt like you were constantly “fire-fighting”, then doing nothing about this in 2018 and expecting things to change is “insanity”, as Albert Einstein called it. We need to take time to reflect on how we’ve spent the 24 hours each day which God has entrusted to us. This will reveal what’s truly important – what your priorities in life are. Was God at the center of all your activities and meetings? Did you conduct yourself in a Christ-like manner?
God’s Word is like a mirror that reflects who we are, so that we can inspect and make adjustments to have our lives lined up in accordance to His standards (James 1:23). Meditating on His Word refreshes us and produces fruitfulness and blessings in our lives (Psalm 1:3).
I want to encourage you to journal, if you don’t already do so. You don’t have to write long paragraphs. The whole idea of journaling is for you to pause, slow down your life, remove the clutter in your busy mind and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. God is speaking all the time, but are we listening? Is our spiritual antenna tuned to His heavenly frequency? God wants to take us higher.
King David understood the value of this when he prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Out of this life of constant self-reflection came forth many beautiful psalms and worship unto the Lord.
2. If I could live my life over again, I’d take more risks.
There are two words which I’m determined to eliminate from my life’s vocabulary, and they are, “If only”. I don’t want to come to a place where at the end of my life, I look back with regrets and make statements like, “If only I had done this” or “If only I had the courage to do that.” I’m sure you know of people who are always talking and thinking about starting something or doing something but just never have the courage to take the first leap into that adventure. I’m quite sure there were important opportunities you’ve forfeited because of your fear to take a risk. There’s only one life to live, or as Millennials would say, “YOLO” – you only live once!
What are the dreams God has placed within you that needs to be realised? Are you living your life “too safe” that there’s no room for God to stretch and enlarge you? The book of Hebrews reminds us that “it’s impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Heb 11:6) Faith is spelt R-I-S-K.
3. If I could live my life over again, I’d leave a legacy.
This is about doing more things that would live on after you’re gone. Are you living for yourself, your dreams, and preparing the next generation for their assignments? How much of your time is spent building others up? Investing in people is one sure way of leaving a legacy because God loves people and your investment in them will appreciate over time.
“If you read history, you’ll find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It’s since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they’ve become so ineffective in this.” C.S. Lewis
This is the beginning of 2018 and God has given each of us a brand new start, an opportunity to write on a fresh page, to make history with Him and for Him. Attempt something so BIG for God, that unless He intervenes, you’re bound to fail!
As the apostle Paul “appealed” to the Ephesians, so I beseech you, “to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Eph 4:1 (NLT)
The Kingdom of God is waiting for you!