It's A Wonderful Life

(Isa 40:6-8 NIV)  A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. {7} The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. {8} The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."

I have been blessed in life and on this Thanksgiving Day I give thanks to God for all that I have experienced on this side of eternity. What would I say if today was the end of my journey?  Don't get me wrong, I plan to live a long life but I would want everyone to know my thoughts about the life that I have lived.

I imagine that today I am to die. I ask for time to be alone and write down for my friends and family a sort of testament for which the points that follow could serve as chapter titles. 

1.  These things I have loved in life: 

 

Things I tasted, 

 

I’ve tasted to find that the Lord is good. 

I have tasted the joys of having a family. 

I have tasted life around the world.

I have tasted and enjoyed entrée’s of numerous cultures on earth.

 

Things I have looked at,

 

I’ve looked out on the great surf of Australia. 

I’ve enjoyed the majestic views from the Great Wall of China. 

I’ve toured the holy cathedral of Notre Dame. 

I’ve enjoyed the views from the top of the Eifel Tower. 

I’ve prayed at the “Western Wall” in Jerusalem.

I’ve looked across Great Britain from the London Eye.

I’ve walked among the tulips in Amsterdam.

I’ve driven among the wild animals of South Africa. 

I've flown 4,000 feet over the Nile in a small airplane looking for Hippos.

I’ve looked at life being brought into the world 5 times and I have 5 precious children to show for it. 

I’ve looked at numerous miracles and I’ve seen God’s hand at work in and around my life. 

I am a rich man.

 

Things I have smelled, 

 

I have smelled the fresh pastries of France.

I have breathed in the fragrant tulips of Amsterdam. 

I have taken in the ubiquitous odor of curry in India.

I have followed the scent of the salt air of Cape Point South Africa.

I've smelled the odor of fresh fish in Shanghai.

I have smelled the smoke from the mountain campfires in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho Africa.

 

Sounds I have heard, 

 

I have heard the desperate cries of orphans in Lesotho and now they are my children/responsibility. 

I have heard the beautiful voices of the Watoto children’s choirs form Uganda whose lives were rescued by missionaries who have sacrificed their lives so that these children could live.

I have heard worship songs come to life from the hearts of my wife and children.

I’ve heard the sounds of rushing streams in the Rocky Mountains.

I have stood in awe listening to the violent sounds of Victoria Falls.

The greatest of all, I’ve heard the sweet voices of my children whisper, “Dad, I love you.” 

 

Things that I have touched,

 

I’ve touched the hands of hurting people.

I’ve touched a lion cub in South Africa.

I’ve felt the gentle touch of baby’s hands.

I’ve clasped the hands of orphans being brought into our care.

I held the hand of my father as he was about to slip into eternity.

 

2.  These experiences I have cherished: 

 

I have cherished marriage for most of my life.

I have cherished watching my children grow up and become adults.

I have cherished being a part of building God’s church.

I have cherished seeing the lives of lost and hurting people find freedom in Christ.

I have cherished the mercy, grace and salvation of God in my own life.

I have cherished being able to see the world that God created.

I have cherished knowing that I am loved and forgiven by God.

 

3.  These ideas have brought me liberation: 

 

The idea that I am better than no one and no one is better than me.

The idea that life is never over as long as we possess the power to choose.

The idea that I can serve others as long as I have strength and breath.

The idea that all of my days are numbered by God and my footsteps are ordered by Him.

The idea/truth that God's grace is sufficient for me.

 

4.  These beliefs I have outgrown: 

 

That there are spiritual formulas that require God to do what I want Him to do.

That I need to be right.

That I know what is good and what is bad.

That others need to agree with me in order for me to believe in an idea.

That I need others to make me happy.

That being alone means that I have to be lonely.

That everything holds a right and wrong. Sometimes we are just different.

 

5.  These convictions I have lived by: 

 

I believe in Jesus Christ.

I believe that He died for my sins.

I believe that God loves me unconditionally.

I believe that I will go to heaven because of grace through faith, not because of my works.

I believe that nothing is impossible with God.

I believe that I have a purpose in this life.

I believe that I will fulfill that purpose.

 

6.  These are the things I have lived for: 

 

I have lived to worship and serve God.

I have lived the best that I can to demonstrate faith in Christ in front of my family and the world.

I have lived to love my family, to provide for my family and to protect my family.

I have lived to see the lives of others become a picture of God’s grace.

I have lived to bring others to a relationship with the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

I have lived for the hope that one day I will hear these words from God, “Well done my good and faithful servant…enter into My rest.”

 

7.  These insights I have gained in the school of life:

 

Insights into God, 

 

God is faithful.

God is patient.

God is LOVE.

God is ever-present.

God is my goal not my means to a goal.

 

Insights into the world, 

 

That there will always be trouble in the world.

That this world is not my home.

That the world really is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people.

 

Insights into human nature, 

 

We are all sinners.

We are all flawed.

We all need God.

We all need one another.

We all need help.

 

Insights into Jesus Christ, 

 

His name is the highest of names.

He is the savior of the world.

He is the only begotten Son of God.

His life is the model that I want to follow.

 

Insights into love, 

 

Love covers sin.

Love never fails.

Love keeps no record of wrong done.

We all need love.

 

Insights into religion, 

 

Religion is unreliable if it doesn’t point us to God.

Religion is our attempt to impress God.

Religion is formal and a formality.

 

Insights into prayer. 

 

Prayer is necessary for all things and all people.

Prayer changes us not God.

Prayer moves us to agree with God, not the other way around.

 

8.  These risks I took, these dangers I have courted: 

 

I risked quitting a great job at 25 years old to go back to college to get a theology degree and follow God.

I risked starting a church in Oklahoma City with only six thousand dollars and a dream with a family of six in tow.

I risked co-piloting an old twin-engine plane over the Nile to get from Kampala Uganda to Gulu.

I risked preaching Jesus to Hindu’s south of New Dehli where the next day the church meeting brought a shower of rocks on those who attended. 

I risked flying a powered parachute built by a friend.

I risked driving an 800 horsepower NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway at 153 miles per hour.

  

9.  These sufferings have seasoned me: 

 

The suffering of losing a child before she was born.

The suffering of having to tell our four living children their mother had miscarried and Anastasia was no longer.

The suffering of watching my wife be ill for four years.

The suffering of watching my mother live life without knowing any of us due to dementia.

The suffering of holding my dad’s hand while he was dying of cancer.

These sufferings, and many more, have taught me that suffering can be a great friend if I cooperate with its redemptive purpose.

The suffering of losing the church that I founded and built over a 20 year period of time.

That we learn obedience through the things that we suffer.  (Hebrews 5:8)

 

10. These lessons life has taught me: 

 

Worship regularly.

Love daily.

Serve endlessly.

Work hard.

Time stands still for nothing or no one so make the most of each day.

When I fall down get up and keep on moving so that I don’t miss what life and time hold for me.

My future won’t be determined by people’s opinion of me but by my opinion of me.

 

11. These influences have shaped my life (persons, occupations, books, events): 

 

My parent’s commitment to family, no matter how dysfunctional.

Every job I’ve ever held shaped in me the value of hard work.

My Sunday School teacher when I was 10, Sister Kilgore.

My time spent at Oral Roberts University. It was there that I learned how to dream and to stand strong in the face of adversity. It was there that I met a lot of friends that are still my friends today. It was there that I learned the value of a good book and the importance of education.

 

12. These scripture texts have lit my path: 

 

Psalm 46:10 NASB “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

Isaiah 26:3 NLT “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Isaiah 54:17 NIV “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD.

Romans 11:29 NIV “For God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Romans 11:29 MSG “God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.”

Philippians 1:6 NLT “And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.”

Phil 4:13 NIV  “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

 

13. These things I regret about my life: 

 

I regret not being more tender with my children.

I regret that I have pressed through life instead of slowing down and enjoying moments.

I regret that I have viewed most things in life as a battle.

I regret all the pain that I have caused others because of my own insecurities.

I regret that I haven’t been more honest with myself about the weaknesses in my life. I knew that they existed but rather than address them I ignored them; even hid them. Those weaknesses have kept me from having intimate, close relationships with the people that I love.

 

14. These are my life's achievements: 

 

My greatest achievement was finding my wife and being a father to five wonderful children.

I’ve been a good leader and communicator in the church.

I’ve trained leaders around the world.

I’ve been a giver of time, energy and money.

I have earned two college degrees.

I built a great church with God’s help.

I am a thankful man.