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A well-spent life E-mail
Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:20



In 2011 my wife and I visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the Civil War battlefield where more than 50,000 American soldiers were wounded or killed in July 1863. A member of one Pennsylvania brigade was Dennison Gregory, my great-great-great grandfather. Injured, he suffered at least one amputation, was carted home and died two weeks later, still in his 30s. He left a widow and young children. 

I recently came across a book, One Month to Live, by Kerry and Chris Shook. For several weeks of this New Year, we’ll be borrowing from the outline of the book to determine, not how to die, but how to prepare for life and how to live life to the fullest. 

Leonardo da Vinci is quoted as saying, “As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a well-spent life brings happy death.” The greatest authority on making the most of a short life, Jesus said, “‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’” (John 10:10). 

From the Shooks’ book, there are four principles to living an abundant life with the time we have allotted. First, we must realize our time is limited. The Psalmist wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Pope Paul VI said, “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. … There are only so many tomorrows.”  Our small church has been the site of a lot of funerals in 2017, with another scheduled this week, and each memorial service brings an awareness of our own mortality. 

A second principle is to risk investment. Jesus’ parable of the servants and their talents (Matthew chapter 25) reminds us not to hoard or fear. We won’t be clobbered by God if we try and fail, but we will miss out on great blessings if we fail to grab an opportunity for maximizing relationship, time, or even our money. 

Next we’re encouraged to rest with purpose. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). We must make time for reflection, recovery, and revitalization in order for our days to be beneficial. 

Finally, each of us must rely on God’s power throughout the day. None of these principles fits in the self-help category; rather, they’re leading toward “self-helplessness” and reliance on God to help us live the way He intends. If we begin the morning on our knees, asking for guidance and wisdom, we can leave the prayer open-ended – without an “amen”. Relax, let God speak, spend time with family and friends. 

For anyone who feels they’ve already misspent a large portion of life, it’s never too late with God. The entire Bible is a story of redemption, of God taking people where they are and making life new. 

As a historian I’m fascinated by a recent study that determined Civil War deaths – which for more than a century were thought to be about 622,000 – may have instead totaled close to 850,000. Some people talk of “living the dash” – filling in the blanks between the time we’re born and the date we die. My ancestor Dennison Gregory was born in 1825, so his dash, and that of hundreds of thousands of other young men, was considerably shortened when they decided to fight for principles they believed in on either side of the Civil War. All these men deserve to be remembered for their heroic sacrifice. 

As Lincoln said during the war, “let God be the judge.” We can thank God for giving us his Spirit, the love of Christ, and trust this to be one of the best weeks we’ve ever had. 




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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