How to Live Life with No Regrets (Or Maybe Just a Few)

Brendon Burton (CC)

As the doctors entered the room they couldn't help but hold their breath. The stench of death overpowered them. There lay a feeble man with only days left in him, and there was nothing they could do.

He was a great man, and it was too soon for him to part from this world. But it was apparent that sheol was imminent.

Even God's messenger, Isaiah, told Hezekiah he was going to die.

In desperation, Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh—the one true God who, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, led the king's ancestors out of Egypt. The God to whom he had been faithful, unlike his father. In agony he rolled over, away from his attendants, to face the wall.

Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes. 2 Kings 20:3

With these last words tears filled his eyes.

Perhaps he cried because of the pain. Maybe it was the uncertainty of death, or the fact that he had unfinished business with the Assyrians. Whatever it was, "he wept bitterly" (Isa. 38:3b).

His time had come to die.

Why You Should Pretend Like You're Dying

Because we don't know how long we will live, we tend to think it will be forever. This is only aggravated by the fact that God has "set eternity in the human heart" (Ecc. 3:11). But life in flesh form is like "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes
" (Jam. 4:14).

Isaiah says an interesting thing to Hezekiah:

Put your house in order, because you are going to die. Isaiah 38:1

But why wait for a terminal illness to get your affairs in order? Why not start today?

After the king's prayer, God gives Hezekiah this very chance:

I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. Isaiah 38:5b

How would you live your life if you knew exactly how much time you had left?

Newsflash: you will die one day. Just because you don't know when, don't pretend like it will never happen. If you do, you will end up full of regret.

How to Discover What Really Matters

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes that it is better to attend a funeral than a party (7:2). Weird, I know. But doing so forces a person contemplate his or her legacy and destiny.

Therefore attend as many funerals as necessary. I don't mean this literally, but mentally:

Imagine your own funeral, fifteen years from now. What did you accomplish?

Write your own eulogy. What do you want it to say?

Interview the attendees of the funeral. What do they say about you?

Answering these questions will clarify what is really important to you. Once you do that you can begin to live life intentionally, working backwards from there. 

You often hear advice to live like today was your last day. That's impractical. If I lived every day like that I would never shower. I would never go to work.

Instead imagine you, like Hezekiah, only had fifteen years left. Use that sense of urgency to focus on what matters. When you do that, you'll be able to live a life with no fewer regrets. (Hey, we all make mistakes.)

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