Imagine this. You open your mailbox. Amidst the junk mail, the bills and the political flyers, you find a handwritten note. It’s so rare to get anything personal in the mail these days that you immediately rip it open.
“Who could this be from,” you wonder? There’s no return address.
The content of the note makes you stop in your tracks.
On it, is written a number. It’s a big number.
And you wonder what that means.
You turn the card over and see a personal note written to you…from God.
The note explains that 14,189 reflects the number of days you will be alive.
Seems like a really big number.
Then, in a panic, you wonder how many days that means you have left.
You remember seeing a “days alive” calculator on the Internet.
Whew. Found it. Frantically, you enter the date of your birth.
Press enter, and you get a quick reply:
14,159 and a message:
“Each day is so important…make the most of it!”
WHAT? 30 days left to live? Can this be for real? You’re only 39!
Your parents are still living. Your grandparents are still living. How could you possibly only have 30 days left at 39?
A Psalm (90:12) comes to mind: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Your to-do list for the next month suddenly changes. The tasks that seemed so vitally important quickly deflate in urgency. You think of the ones you love, and you have a burning desire to cherish every remaining moment with them.
None of us really knows how many days we’ll be alive.
But if we knew our “expiration date,” how would that impact our daily choices?
This past week, I’ve had the privilege of stepping on “Holy Ground” again. I helped a beautiful woman write letters to her beloved husband, three adult children and two grandchildren. She’d recently been placed under hospice care. She knows that her days are numbered. And she wants to leave nothing unsaid.
She is being intentional. She wants her loved ones to know how much she loves them, and the things about each one that she cherishes.
She’s been given a gift: the gift of the “long goodbye.” Is she happy about her cancer and the prognosis? Absolutely not. Is she ready to die? Not in the least. She deeply loves her husband and family and wants to live for many more years. But, short of a miracle, that’s not going to happen.
When I walk away from a sacred experience with someone approaching promotion to Heaven, other faces flash across my mind. They’re the faces of people I have known who died “before their time.” The ones who died from heart attacks, falls, cancer, plane crashes and skiing accidents. The ones who died young or unexpectedly. The ones who never got around to writing letters to the ones they loved.
I just read about the amazing life and tragic death of 39 year old Sam Beall. He and his wife were the proprietors of the award winning Blackberry Farm, a five-star resort in Tennesee considered to be one of the top small hotels in the world. A devoted husband and father of five, he was the epitome of gracious, Southern hospitality. He died in a skiing accident in February. I have no idea if Mr. Beall wrote letters to his family members. But I can almost guarantee that he didn’t expect to die at 39.
It’s times like this when I could literally get on my knees and beg each and every one of you to set aside the time…this week or this month…to write letters to those who matter most. Because only God knows the number of our days on Earth.
Yes, you might live to be 90 or 100. And you might not.
For the sake of those you love, please…leave nothing unsaid.
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