Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady wrote a chapter in their book Leadership and Liberty titled, Live While You’re Alive. It’s a very short but profound article that I wish everyone would wake up each day to read; those 600-700 words can change the way we think about how we choose to spend our seconds.
This past week has been one that no one ever expects to experience. Life is a roller coaster and one minute you are climbing the peak and moments later you are plummeting into the earth. My dad was at his cabin in Minnesota when on his trip he started to experience severe medical issues. On his way back Monday he was taken to the hospital immediately with severe symptoms associated with his heart. He was told he was in congestive heart failure and all the symptoms he has been experiencing in the last 30-60 days were related to this heart disease that he didn’t know he had. In fact, they had previously mis-diagnosed him saying it was a certain medication causing all the symptoms. They said his heart is very weak, functioning at only 20% and that he is in atrial fibrillation (an arrhythmia that causes irregular heart rhythm). Because of the advanced stage that it is in, other parts of his body are being affected as well. His doctors and cardiologists are saying this is only treatable, not reversible and that his life has been shortened dramatically. I was told in private that at his advanced stage and his age, less than 20% of people make it longer than 5 years and if he doesn’t change his lifestyle, he could die next week. No son or daughter ever wants to hear this of their parents.
The reason I tell this story is because moments like these are turning points in our lives. For my dad, it says that he needs to live while he’s alive… My life will not be the same knowing this because I don’t know how much longer I will have with him. So often we go days without telling our parents and loved ones that we love them, or we cut them off in the middle of a phone conversation because we are busy, or we get frustrated because they are calling ‘again.’ I only say this because I am guilty of it. When really all our family wants to know is that we care about them and that we value them in our lives. Imagine standing in front of a foggy window and seeing a silhouette of a person standing on the other side. We don’t think anything of it because that person probably means nothing to us. But as soon as we wipe away the fog we see our father’s face looking back at us. Suddenly that silhouette has more value. He just wants us to notice him. We need to remember to wipe away the fog and focus on the treasure that’s looking back at us.
My dad does not have any family in the area except for me. God has quite the way of working his miraculous plan because I was blessed to spend every day with him for multiple hours this week and comfort him through some of the difficult procedures he has had to face. I did not have to ask for time off of work, I just had the freedom to be by his side. His journey will be long and hard when he gets out and I am so thankful that I have the availability to be able to hold his hand in this dark valley that’s ahead.
It’s about priorities! Life is tough and we are being pulled a million different directions. The very things that are the most important get set aside for the urgent not so important things. Shouldn’t it be that the most important things are the urgencies that we choose to focus on each and every day? Chris Brady says, “We keep telling ourselves that we will slow things down, live our priorities, and make time for the important things as soon as… That phrase ‘as soon as,’ has enabled the slaughter of thousands of precious hours of our lives.” It shouldn’t take life or death situations to open our eyes to the real priorities in life. Most of the time, we are too late and there is no time left. The business of LIFE – Living Intentionally for Excellence, is offering people a chance to gain back their life; so when the turning points do happen (and they will), whether it be buying a home, having a baby, getting married, death, divorce or facing major medical issues, we are prepared to handle them with strength and courage because the unimportant things that would normally consume all our time, are out of the way. Orrin and Laurie Woodward have had major turning points in their lives and because they had the courage to change their life years ago, they are now able to be the examples of what it truly means to live for their priorities in LIFE. We all have that opportunity. Don’t wait for a turning point to make a decision to change… start now and be prepared for when those turning points come.