4 Powerful Action Steps to Make Every Single Day Count
What if God told you that tomorrow was your very last day here on earth? Would you have any regrets? Have you followed God’s purpose for your life? Did you take that leap of faith or run the other direction in fear? Have you been a faithful spouse or have you spent your days breaking them down? Have you been graceful with your children or do you respond to them in anger? Have you taken the opportunity to share Jesus with others, or haven’t for fear of rejection? Have you loved fully? Have you served others? Have you given willingly, sacrificially and cheerfully?
In 2015, my vivacious, 80-year-old, loud Italian grandpa passed away. He was living a perfectly normal life, before he went in to have a minor surgery on a nerve that was causing numbness in his hand. Post-surgery, he developed infections that his body couldn’t fight. He suffered for 2 months in the hospital with infections so bad his bones were literally breaking as he moved. His energy was depleted, but somehow muttered a few words and prayed for Theo. He told Theo to “Just keep preaching.” As he lay practically lifeless, John Mayer’s song “SAY” was playing through the hospital speakers. It was a GODINCIDENCE. The lyrics are powerful.
Have no fear for giving in
Have you fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Then never to say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open
Say what you need to say
I’ll never forget that song. It was a powerful message for Theo, as we felt the holy spirit working through my grandpa during his last moments here. We knew God was working through him, telling us to keep sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others. It’s not a song that you hear often. That is why, when I heard this song AGAIN randomly on August 18, 2017 there was NO DOUBT in my mind it was a sign from above. A GODINCIDENCE. This wasn’t just a normal day. It was the same day of our sweet Piper Samuels visitation, who went to heaven just 5 days earlier. A sign I had been praying for. I knew that God wanted me to Say what HE NEEDS me to say. It may not impact you, but it’s meant to share. I hope it can change the heart of at least one person.
Live Like You’re Dying is a chapter in Coach Theo’s book, Conversations With Gio. If you haven’t read it, you need to. It’s an absolute game changer. I forgot this until I was having a conversation with him this morning. I said, “Theo! I feel compelled to share this blog. God is calling me to do it.” He laughed at me and with encouragement said, “That is awesome, but you DO KNOW that is already a chapter in my book. Didn’t you read my book????” I guess great minds think alike. Great minds also think differently. In Theo’s book, he offers up questions to reflect upon. Questions like: How do you want to be remembered when you die? What matters most to you? What do you want to accomplish? In this blog, I want to offer 4 powerful action steps to take in order to live each day like it’s the last! Die to yourself. Give. Serve. Love.
#1 DIE TO YOURSELF
In order to fully understand what it means to LIVE, you first must die. Figuratively, not literally. The New Testament teaches us that dying to yourself is part of being born again. The old self dies, and the new self comes to life. It can happen once and also be a life-long process. Jesus spoke to his disciples about taking up their cross and following him. The cross symbolizes love, mercy and grace. Once you let Jesus into your life, you no longer live but HE lives within you. You must first let go of your sinful, selfish pleasures and in turn pursue what will please GOD.
This is not an easy task and something I need to be reminded of daily. A true follower, needs to follow the Lord in whatever ways he leads. Our pride tells us to focus on our own feelings, wants, and desires. But the CROSS is a reminder to focus on HIM.
My life has drastically changed since I let Jesus into my heart and started following him. My attitude, my thoughts, my actions, the words that come out of my mouth are different. By no means am I trying to portray “perfection”. Heck No. Not even close. In fact, every 28 days I think my whole family is ready to pack their bags and move to a new state! I’m still a work in progress. We all should be.
Raised an only child, I always thought life was supposed to be about me. My adolescence was filled with some hurtful memories. Memories that consist of abuse and depression (not from my loving parents). My old self would think, “Why is this happening to me?” Or, “I don’t deserve this.” Truly dying to oneself can free you from the hurt, pain and suffering. My new self in Christ is reminded of the precious gift of eternal life that I have been given. It has allowed me to heal, to forgive, and to be fully restored. The only person holding you back from these things is YOU. So, let go and let GOD. Pray hard, surrender the control, trust in him, seek him out and be still. It gives you the power to forgive, give, serve and love. It gives you the power to LIVE every single day like it’s your last.
We are living in a society in which everyone is trying to keep up with the Joneses. I see women altering their bodies, purchasing the latest designer bags, big houses and SUV’s, high end clothes. I can often get caught up in the same thought process. Not because I covet these things, but because it’s become a normal part of our society. More, more, more. Lack of contentment. If everyone else is doing it, then I should too right? Its then when I need to ask myself, If I were to die tomorrow would any of these things matter? Am I trying to please MAN or am I trying to please GOD? None of these material pleasures can be taken to heaven with us. It is all left here.
If you want to live like it’s your last day here, then GIVE. Give what you cannot take with you to heaven, EVERYTHING. God tells us to give. I’m not saying you can’t spend or save your money or buy things you want. But God loves a cheerful, willing giver that is done in accordance with their means. When you look at the root of why you are purchasing or desiring to have something, is it because you want to please yourself/someone or is to please GOD?
Today I experienced the Walmart grocery pick up service. Just giving it a try. I parked next to an extremely angry woman with two kids in her car. She screamed at the attendant for not having her groceries ready. As the attendant brought my groceries out to my car, I could see the lady next to me grow angrier. My anxiety started to heighten and I just wanted to get the heck outta there! My sinful self was getting really annoyed at her. Jesus wouldn’t walk away though. The holy spirit nudged me, what if one simple random act of kindness could make her smile? So, I pulled out, rolled down my window and said, “Hi there. I can tell you are very frustrated your groceries are not ready. I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can get you while you wait? Would your kids like a snack?” She proceeded to share with me that both of her kids were sick and vented for the next ten minutes. I just listened but she SMILED and thanked me. What a simple gift to give. But its GIVING. We have been GIVEN the most precious GIFT by Jesus himself-eternal life. Why waste the opportunity to give?
Other ways you can give: share the news of Jesus without hesitation or fear, tithe at church, make a donation to a charitable organization, buy food for the homeless, pay someone’s toll, pay for a struggling family’s meal, offer to babysit, redirect gifts. Instead of having people give you birthday or Christmas gifts, ask them to donate to a certain charity instead. Smile and be friendly. You never know how great your impact can be on someone even from the smallest forms of giving. You never know what kind or hurt of painful situations they might be going through. The giving can then multiply and people will pay it forward. Sometimes giving doesn’t even have to be monetary, it can be done in other ways such as serving or loving.
“Even the son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). The bible talks a lot about serving. Theo’s life verse is “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vein conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others. In your relationship with one another, have the same mindset as JESUS” (Philippians 2:3-5).
I used to be so regimented with my own daily activities, schedule, work, workout, just to name a few. Then I had my son. I had no idea what life would be like being dictated by another little human being. I laugh now looking back. I thought I knew everything about how to care for a newborn. I was literally considered “the best nanny”. I took care of countless families and was always the first to be called on the babysitter list. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew it would be a piece of cake. I threw that out the window real fast!
Parents serve their children daily. We change diapers, prepare meals, do homework, launder clothes and sheets, take them to and from activities, cheer them on at sporting events, pay for their schooling, lead them in Christ. We are servants…. A better word might be slaves. We are slaves to our children!
In all seriousness, if you are a parent you better serve your children and then teach them to become independent servants of OTHERS. In order to make a BIG impact they need to see YOU serving others.
If today was your last day, would you be the one to help someone who has a flat tire on the side of the road? Or the one who drives by thinking someone else will help? Would you hold the door for people? Would you go out of your way to help someone even when its inconvenient? Our motto at FMU is #itsnotaboutme. We do countless service projects in our community. We do it because God calls us to do it, not because we want praise. There are so many little eyes watching and little ears listening. Make. Every. Second. Count.
There are many ways to serve. God has given you your own unique gifts and talents. Everyone is different. Start by making a list of those gifts and talents. As opposed to your own self recognition, think of ways you can serve others with these gifts. Some of my God given gifts are being able to organize, manage and delegate. Sometimes I wonder why I couldn’t have just been given the gift of singing or the lung capacity of a long-distance runner. Of course, it’s because God has a plan and it wasn’t for me to be a good runner. While I am still a work in progress, I used to use this for my own advantage. I used to get my way all of the time, especially being an only child. While they may not be deemed the coolest gifts, I have now focused these qualities for GOOD on events like Hitman Challenge (Roc4NBCure) and Smiles For Sophie Forever Bash N Dash, raising thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer. These events benefit so many families fighting this terrible disease. Had I never starting using Gods gifts to serve, imagine all the families who wouldn’t have been helped. That is not meant to be a pat on the back because, trust me, I can always do a much better job of serving. Don’t wait until it’s too late. I challenge you to tap into your gifts and use them to serve, like today was your last.
Other ways you can serve is volunteer at charity events, stop to help someone in need, teach someone a skill you know. Teaching your spouse how to clean the toilet- ok that doesn’t count. My neighbor will sometimes have the entire neighborhood in his yard to play baseball. He is serving the kids and parents in his community and he LOVES it. Its setting an example. I think it’s something these kids will never forget and will pass on to their children. Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds that glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Comfort someone in grief and help them with the healing process, lend your ear to someone who needs to vent, encourage someone who wants to get active by asking them to go for a jog/walk, cut your neighbors grass or offer to walk their dogs, and LOVE people.
We are living in a broken world with increasing violence, hate crime, racism, prejudice, drugs, and divorce. It is filled with people who hurt us over and over, time and time again. These things don’t come from love. If we rely on PEOPLE we will never truly feel loved or be able to FULLY LOVE others. We will be endlessly searching to fill a “void”. The only one who can truly satisfy the human heart is the one who made it.
Love, in my opinion, is the most powerful action step of all. If today was your last day would you have any regrets regarding LOVE? Have you been patient and kind or envious and rude? Do you insist on your own way, are irritable and resentful? Are you letting your own pride ruin your relationships with your spouse and family? Do you rejoice at wrongdoing or rejoice with the truth? Do you love those who hurt you the most? Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is LOVE. (1JOHN 4:8) So I challenge you to be THE PROOF of his LOVE!
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy
but don’t love I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate
If I speak Gods word with power
Revealing all of his mysteries
And making everything as plain as day
And if I have faith to say to a mountain “jump” and it jumps
But I don’t LOVE I’m nothing
If I give all I earn to the poor or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr But I don’t love I’ve gotten no where
So, no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do
I’m bankrupt without LOVE
So, let my life be the proof, the proof of your love.”
(1 Corinthians 13)
The bible is endless with scripture on love. It is our duty to love because God first loved us. He loves us when we are happy, when we are sad and when we are hurting. He even loves us when we are hateful and try to shut him out. He tells us to love and pray for our enemies in Matthew 5:44. THIS. IS. SO. HARD. It’s easy to see that Love doesn’t put self-first. In fact, he puts US first. His love NEVER FAILS so why should ours? No matter how badly you have messed up and think he could never forgive you, he is waiting for you to call him back into your heart. GOD sent his one and only son to die on the cross so that we may have eternal life. Come on, it’s really simple! That’s how much love he has for us. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
My challenge to you is to be the proof of God’s love. Love with your whole heart like today were your last day. You have so much love to give, why keep it tucked away for yourself?
There are many ways you can show love to someone. Not everyone’s “love tank” is filled the same way. Tap into people, learn their story and find out what makes them feel loved. Even your enemies (insert vomit emoji). A little can go a long way. You would be surprised how some people don’t even experience a single ounce of love on a daily basis. Hugs, compliments, notes, encouraging words, quality time, being a good listener, acts of service, gifts of appreciation, forgiveness, prayer, sacrifice, sharing the message and hope of Jesus Christ are just a few examples of how to love like Jesus. They could change someone’s life.
This brings me back to my whole inspiration behind writing this. PIPER SAMUELS. Kari, Piper’s mom shared with us at Pipers Life Celebration, just before she passed away how she wanted everyone to know just how much she loved them. Times a million. Or something to that extent. She was living proof of GOD’s love for us. Despite the amputation, countless treatments, pokes, prods and the end of it all she wanted to let people know she LOVED them. Her love never failed, his love never fails and ours shouldn’t either.
“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.” (Psalm 90:12) Life is short. God can take us at any moment. After all, we are his children. HIS creation. He wants us to choose our days wisely. We may never truly understand the impact we have in this world; and sometimes its seems as though we could be doing so much more. We have to be obedient and humble before the Lord, seeking him out every day in prayer for guidance. If you were given one final day on earth, I hope you would make it count. I challenge you to be the one who opens doors, spares their change, loves the ones who hurt you most, shares the news of Jesus, takes that leap of faith, walks humbly, is the voice of reason, prevents conflict and is an example. I am challenging myself to not just go through the motions but to LIVE IT OUT, be bold and without hesitation.
I recently gave bracelets engraved with the words LIVE IT OUT to some friends of mine. It is a symbol of our sisterhood in Christ, but also a reminder to live out our faith and to be bold about it. It is already changing their thoughts, words and actions. It is already starting conversations. Will you join us in the challenge? (If you would like to order a bracelet for an everyday reminder to LIVE IT OUT, you can do so here: https://keepcollective.com/c/q73sb )
It’s not about you, but it starts with you. Take up the cross, be renewed in Christ, and live passionately by giving, serving and loving just like Jesus did. It may just be an absolute game-changer for you and everyone in your life.