We procrastinate because we think we have time.
We stay silenced because we think we have time.
We hide, we follow, we subdue.
We think we have it.
I have recently conducted an interview with a palliative care professional specifically on the concept of time. More importantly, how time influences how we live our lives. Palliative care is end of life care, providing quality of life for those who have run out of time.
In the movies they always show patients being told they have a certain amount of time left to live. In reality, patients are not given a definitive answer, because there’s no way to know what tomorrow might bring. In fact, if a patient were told they had six months to live, for example, the patient might put off and keep putting off the things that need to be done simply because they think they have time. Instead, doctors will simply say, “Get things in order,” if their condition gets serious.
Throughout this interview, I really wanted to focus on the behavioural aspects of these patients, I was not surprised to see the extensive range of coping these patients displayed. Some closed off from family while others drew nearer. Some became depressed while others were filled with hope. Some were scared while others believed they were going home. Among all these differences one thing stayed the same. All patients started to live in the moment, because for the first time in their lives, they didn’t have time.
How often do we close off from our spouse for days in our frustration because we think we have time? What if you did not have the time you thought you did to reconcile that relationship?
How often do we procrastinate our work, our chores, and our lives because we think we have time? How often do we use the phrase, “we have our whole lives ahead of us,’ but what if we don’t?
We don’t live in the moment, because we think we have time.
Our lives are nothing more than a blink of an eye to God, and we still think we have time.
We all have that inevitable expiry date, some sooner than others, but we can’t keep living as if it doesn’t apply to us. If God told you right now, “Get things in order.” What would you do?
What would your life look like if you lived every single day, just like that?
2 Timothy 1:6-12 (NIV) For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
In stating that we all have cancer, I draw attention to the call we have all been given, to take up our cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), to be a slave, to suffer for his cause (Ephesians 4:1), and to be bold in our faith, and bold in His power (2 Timothy 1:7). We do not have the time we think we do to make purposeful mistakes, to live for ourselves, and to wander off the path (Psalm 90:3-4). We need to live every day with the mindset that we could die at any second, start to finish, putting God first and obeying his commands.
As a Follower of Christ, we have all been given this diagnosis, now, let me help you through the grieving process.
1) Denial and Isolation
For those who are older, this news may be easier to accept, you’ve lived a good life, you’re not giving up anything, you feel ready. For those who are younger, its hard to envision an end and it seems morbid to bring it up. A call to suffer and to work for our Savior for our duration of our time on this earth does not seem to be His plan for us, at least, we don’t want to believe that it is. We isolate ourselves from God because we don’t want to surrender what He calls of us. We don’t want to give up the world and the life that it offers us for the unknown difficulties of following Christ. We draw out an imaginary boundary for ourselves of the limits for what we are willing to do for God and yet in the process we are preventing ourselves from ever getting to see the blessings on the other side.
Its a leap of faith to follow Christ, but its worth it.
Its normal to feel angry at God that we have to miss out on the many temptations of the world and how on top of missing out on those temptations we’re persecuted for it as well. Its also normal to feel guilty for being angry.
I think at some point all of us feel this way. We know about the cross. We know Jesus died for our sins. We know He has a better plan for us. But for some unknown reason it doesn’t change the fact that there’s still a part of us (no matter how suppressed that part might be) that is still slightly angry.
We’re not perfect, we’re sinful people who have sinful desires that we have to fight against every moment. As long as your hope and trust, not just knowledge, rests on the promises that God has made for you, your anger is nothing more than a human emotion overcome with transcendent peace.
This is the part where we’re halfway to the finish line and Satan REALLY does not want us to cross over into acceptance. You’ll be told all kinds of things, “Oh its not really sin, where does it say that?” “You don’t have to give everything.” Satan wants you to go all the way back to denial, because thats where you’re the ‘happiest.’
You cannot make a deal with the devil without getting burned.
Tune it out, keep going, you’re almost there!
This is that final stage where your entire being seems to think that you’re missing something, that you’ve lost something.
It’s right. You have lost something.
You’ve lost everything thats holding you back from the life you were meant to live. How freeing not to worry about how to fit in to society’s version of average. How easy to forget about your past because the King of heaven has swept away your offences like a cloud (Isaiah 44:22). Your future is bright (bright enough that you can’t look at it with your human eyes!). Its symptom management from here on out, and your loving Father is ready and able to provide whats necessary to ensure quality of life for your time left.
Everything you need to understand about acceptance can be summed up in one verse.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.