North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

Lying on his deathbed, the rich, miserly old man calls to his long-suffering wife. “I want to take all my money with me,” he tells her. “So promise me you’ll put it in the casket.” After the man dies, his widow attends the memorial service with her best friend. Just before the undertaker closes the coffin, she places a small metal box inside. Her friend looks at her in horror. “Surely,” she says, “You didn’t put the money in there.” “I did promise him I would,” the widow answers. “So I got it all together, deposited every penny in my account, and wrote him a check. If he can cash it, he can spend it.”
People have many ideas about death. We sometimes say, “Rest In Peace” or “R.I.P” in regards to loved ones or those we know. Peace is needed; it’s wanted, and often desired by all of us. It’s not until some people get to the end of life that peace becomes a critical issue for them.
A list, noting the “Top 5 Regrets of The Dying”, was distributed by various organizations including the AARP. Supposedly, the list came from a home health care nurse who provided palliative care to her patients who had been sent home to die. Many of her ill patients shared common regrets on how they lived their life. In the waning weeks and days of their life, they faced their own mortality. One of the things she drew from spending time with them was to never underestimate someone’s capacity for growth.
“The Top 5 Regrets of The Dying”: 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This was the most common regret regret of all. It’s important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. You must face life head-on. Each event in your life can be a stepping stone to the achievement of a dream long-held deep within your heart. Hold on to your dreams and never give up on them. Sometimes it’s too late once you lose your health. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” Most all of the male patients said this. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious decisions along the way, it’s possible to not need the income that you think you do. Money isn’t everything. And when you come to the end of your life it will not go with you nor do you have the guarantee it will be spent as you wish it would be.
3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. Be honest and forthcoming about your feelings. People will respect you as a straight-shooter when you share tactfully what you feel inside.
4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with friends.” Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they’re dying. It’s common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. Before dying, people want to get there financial affairs in order if possible. But it’s not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. It’s much easier to stay in contact with friends than it used to be. And it’s worth the extra effort in maintaining contact with those who are important to you. Remember, “A true friend loves at all times…” (Prov. 17:17). It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That’s all that remains in the final weeks of life: love and relationships.
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier”. This is a surprisingly common one. Many didn’t realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns, habits, and unloving relationships. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves, that they were content. When you’re on your death bed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to let go and smile again long before you’re dying? Life really is a choice. It’s your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, and choose honestly. We all chase after it…happiness. Yet it eludes some who don’t hold it in perspective or simply don’t recognize that it can be attained. The Bible says, “Be happy in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) and “A happy heart does a body good like medicine” (Prov. 17:22).
Romans 5:1 says, “…get right with God by putting your trust in Him, we can have peace with Him. It’s because of what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us”. As you choose to live each day, try to keep regrets from claiming residence in your heart and mind. It’s true; your time here is limited. In fact, the Bible says, “…what is your life? It’s like a fog or a vapor. You see it and soon it’s gone” (James 4:14). Prepare to die by choosing to live for the right purposes. Learn from God by reading and meditating on His Word. Laugh at yourself, and enjoy others by counting your blessings, and love by smiling, speaking kindly, and sharing what Christ has done for you. Learn, laugh, and love—three simple ways to live without a stockpile of regrets keeping you from “resting with peace”. See you in church on Sunday!
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Jul 14 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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