If You’re Still Breathing . . .

I found out a few weeks ago that a friend of mine has cancer. The doctors said the tumor had likely been growing for several years, based on the size. He began to have some health issues and that led them to the tumor. They put a port in his chest and he’s now completed his third chemo treatment. I got to see him on Monday. He feels good and his spirit is positive and faith-full. He’s one of those guys that when you hear something like this, you say, “Really, God? Him?! He’s one of the good ones.”

Now, I’m not writing about cancer here, but how the cancer has already changed his perspective and outlook on life and priorities. He said the past few years that his business had boomed, mainly due to one large account, and he and his wife bought some land and began to fill the American Dream Toy Box. You know, the stuff everyone says, “If we ever have money, I want one of those.” Funny how “those” always multiplies once we start the buying.

He said the problem was they got caught in a vicious cycle of acquiring stuff, the stuff needed maintenance, and cost more money, so they worked harder and then they had no time to enjoy any of it. We talked about how so many of us as Americans really want to “own,” but not necessarily “use,“ because the owning eats up all the time, and oddly, seems to satisfy us. The stuff becomes like trophies displayed—impressive, but useless.

My friend said that after the diagnosis, he and his wife talked over priorities, and started selling the stuff. Oh, and somewhere in all that, the big account got pulled too. 95% of his business—gone with a single phone call. He said now, he and his wife want to downsize, simplify, enjoy life, and experience things together—like weekend road trips and time with good friends.

He said he gets up every morning and prays, “Lord, thanks for another day I had and this one to come. Help me to do what You want me to today.” He said he won’t miss his stuff, he’s realized money isn’t that important, and just wants to slow down and enjoy the days God gives him. He no longer wants to miss life, just because it’s flying by him too fast.

I want to tell you, if you met my friend, you would never meet a better, more generous, more kind-hearted man than him. And he loves God. To be honest, I really don’t see this friend a lot, but anytime I do, within minutes we are talking, not about the weather or sports or stuff, but about the Lord. I love friends like that—more now than ever.

Here’s what I took away from my time with him and some questions I know he would want you to think on too. . . . If you were diagnosed with cancer today, what would be on your list of things to go? What stuff wouldn’t matter anymore? What would need to be added to your life that isn’t there now? What would matter to you? And where would God be on your new priority list?

Why not answer those questions and start that journey before there’s a diagnosis?

We are such funny creatures that we will be busy about things that we know, deep in our hearts, really don’t matter, but somehow we might feel better about the insanity if we can do it just one more day.

I also realized my friend is finding life—that real, abundant life Jesus spoke of—because he has now seen death. It showed up in his body and on an x-ray. But God is busy producing life in his heart and spirit that is truly contagious and will spread farther and deeper than any cancer. The doctors say his tumor is shrinking. And I can tell you his spirit is growing. The same Healer is doing both.

Think about those questions, okay? And let me repeat what I say here a lot: If you’re still breathing, you can change.

What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. —Matthew 6:31-34 MSG

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