If you had one month to lose 10 pounds, what foods would you give up?  If you had one month to save for a vacation, how would your spending habits change?  If you had one month to take a written test for your job, how would you use your time more wisely?

What if you had one month to live?  What would you do differently?

We can give an easy answer for the first three questions, but that last one . . .Wow.  What would I do?  Let’s face it – it is a very penetrating question, and to answer such a heavy question, we need some time to think about it and reflect.

What would I do differently…

Fifteen years ago, I came face-to-face with a life-altering problem.  I had a bump in my leg, right below my knee.  When I went to have it checked out, I was diagnosed with a blood clot.  The doctor told me it was not in a dangerous spot, but if it moved up my leg, I would need to go back to the hospital immediately.

The next day…the clot had climbed up my leg and was now in a very dangerous spot.  I was admitted to the hospital and put on a heparin drip to help overcome the blood clot.  Doctors told me the dangers of what would happen if the blood clot should break loose and lodge in my heart or lungs.

It could be fatal.

Upon hearing that their pastor was in the hospital, many member of our church wanted to come out and minister to me.  I discovered something I did not know at that time – Everybody knows of someone who died of a blood clot.

I laid there in my bed and listened to story after story of deaths by blood clots.  One guy actually told me, “My uncle Bob had a blood clot, brother Gary, and woke up dead the next day.”

I couldn’t take being “ministered to” anymore and asked (begged) our Associate Pastor to keep me ministry free for a while.  So he asked members to just pray for Pastor Gary because he needed his rest (and peace of mind).

Meanwhile, a buddy of mine came to stay with me through the night to allow my wife Nancy to go home (we had four children).  We talked and laughed together about old times.  I really enjoyed his company and great sense of humor.

That night I made another discovery.  My friend had sleep apnea and didn’t know it.  He snored and walked around the room in his sleep…all night!  

After a night of sleep deprivation and not-so-encouraging ministry from church members the day before, I started feeling sorry for myself.

I started thinking – what if the blood clot does break lose?  What do I wish that I would have done differently in my life?  Preached better?  Prayed longer?

I decided I wanted to play more.  Specifically, I wanted to play “Trouble.”  Why?  Well, that was the board game my youngest daughter always wanted to play – but Dad (a.k.a. Pastor, Reverend, Brother) never had time.  Dad was always preparing, preaching, praying, participating, promoting, practicing, but never playing.  I didn’t have time.

Well, I did now.

And I didn’t know what the future had for me.  So I asked my wife to bring the kids by so that we could play Trouble.  You know, I still reflect back to the time when choices about important things had to be made.  I wanted to play more.  I wanted to love my family more.

You see, we get into these terrible ruts where we put what’s important on the back burner and what’s urgent on the front burner.  The urgent always wins out over the important.

Unless you have One Month to Live.

Then your perspective changes.

Why does it take being on our backs in a hospital room to bring our lives into focus?  God has His way of making us “lie down” to not only get our attention, but to help us focus on the important.

Fifteen years later, this same question will be given to our entire church to focus on in a small group setting.  It is not a question about dying but about living. To not only live the length of our lives, but to live the breath of our lives as well.

So, let me be the first to ask you, “What would you do differently if you had “One Month To Live?”

Gary