Have you ever been camping? It’s a lot of fun when you go with friends and families, especially young kids. We went this Fall with about 50 people in our group. One of the young girls with us, while playing, stumbled across a yellow jacket hole in the ground, she suffered 30+ stings. One of the men that helped rescue her ended up with 50+ yellow jacket stings and a near-death swelling-spree that ended with a trip to the hospital. That night… a couple of bears came roaming through the campsite, ate some of our food, and pooped near one of the tents. Our lives could have changed in an instant. We didn’t leave for the trip thinking that way, but by the time we came home – the thought was on all of our minds.
You know, the first gun I ever bought (a snub-nosed, wood handle, Rossi .38 Special) was from a guy that was a customer of a friend. I never met him. He was a normal fellow from what I know, he was healthy and middle-aged, just going about his life normally. One night he went out to eat at a nice steakhouse. During the course of dinner, he choked on a piece of steak – and died. In an instant, his life was over. In an instant, the life of his loved ones was changed forever. They were just going out to dinner like any other night out – he didn’t expect to die that night – but he did – in an instant.
Our lives could change in an instant. Any time, any day. For some reason this topic has come up a number of times recently in conversations among some of my friends. Maybe it is because of the age of my peer group, maybe it is recent events – people getting in car accidents, terminal diagnoses, maybe just greater awareness of life changes in others through social media. Possibly it’s all the bad news we see on the TV, children being shot in schools, tornadoes ripping through towns and instantly changing lives. I don’t know why, but whatever it is that has brought it to my attention more recently – I understand with greater clarity that life could change in an instant. We all know it, but what do we do with that information?
Sometimes we get lulled into the “boring” existence of life, the monotony of the day to day… get up, go to work or school, come home, eat dinner, go to bed, rinse, repeat… We start to think that nothing ever changes. We know theoretically that it can, but we always assume that it won’t happen, at least to us. Life will just continue at this pace seemingly forever.
But, then something does happen, maybe something catastrophic, and then we are slammed with the reality that life could really change in an instant and maybe we are unprepared for the aftermath.
The whole course of our life could be altered in the literal matter of a second. We see this happening all around us, just about every single day. Lives change – in an instant.
Examples of Life-Changing Instances
Our kids will go to school on average 2,340 days from the time they start Kindergarten until the time they graduate from High School. That’s a lot of days following the same “boring” routines. You could be breezing through another school year and your child could go to school one day like every other monotonous day, but one of those days they could be out on the playground, playing like usual. While running around with their friends, they could trip and fall the wrong way and suffer trauma to the head and end up with brain damage. Their life – your life – have both changed in an instant.
Maybe you and your children go to bed one night like you have for years, you are exhausted after a long day of the same “boring” routines and the fighting with small children to get into bed and to stay there. You have had a crying baby all day – you are ready for bed and are so thankful this day is over. But this night might be different. Maybe when you get up the next morning your child is not there, they have been taken, or maybe your child has died as a result of SIDS or some other tragic event. When you awake, your life could be changed in an instant.
Life could be humming along and then a routine 6-month visit to the doctor could change it all. Maybe you get a cancer diagnosis and the doctor says you have 6 months to live. Your life just changed in that instant.
Maybe you are in college – doing the normal college grind – studying, working, studying a lot more… and then one evening you get hit by a drunk driver and your spinal cord is severely damaged and you now face the rest of your life in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. Your life just changed in an instant.
I try to avoid working out, because I am just sure that one of the times I am on the treadmill I will have a heart attack. It’s not worth the risk. 🙂 People die of heart attacks every day – they aren’t expecting it, but their life could change drastically or even end – in an instant.
Work is one of those monotonous tasks that is like watching Groundhog Day with Bill Murray – the same day over and over and over. Most days are nothing but a repeat of the day before. The same tasks, nothing exciting, nothing will ever change… and then that fateful day comes and your company of 10, maybe 20, or even 30 years decides it’s time to downsize – and you are on the list. Your life just changed in an instant.
Marriage and raising a family are others areas where a lot of the time you feel like you are just trying to survive. Day after day… get up early, get the kids ready for school, make lunches, maybe get yourself ready, fix breakfast, take the kids to school, go to work, pick the kids up, do homework, break up fights between siblings, fix dinner, work some more, do Bible lessons, more homework, fight to get them to go to bed – and then your spouse hits you with a ton of bricks when they walk in and say, “I want a divorce!” Your life just changed in that instant.
Not All Instant Change is Bad
It seems like most instantaneous changes are bad and I almost want to apologize for that and for all the negative examples you’ve just read, but unfortunately these examples are real life – they aren’t make-believe. Instant change doesn’t all have to be bad though. We don’t have to live a life full of dread and fear – worried about all the big bad things that could happen, because we can’t all live in a bubble and keep bad things from happening.
There are some pretty great instant life-changing things that can happen as well though.
A husband and wife could conceive a child – in that instance, their lives have changed forever. At least once that baby gets home from the hospital – for sure, their lives have changed at that moment and for at least the next 18+ years.
Or what about that moment that your child decides to become a Christian – their life – changed in that instant for the better (or really for the best).
You could be dating someone and they propose – your life just changed in that instant. Same with your wedding day – when you get to the end of that ceremony – that instant that you become man and wife, ’til death do us part – your life changes in that instant – for the rest of your life.
We could change our life at any instance – for the good. We are in control. We could decide right now, right this second to change, to do something positive in our lives. I could, this very second decide that I am going to live a more healthy lifestyle – the moment I make that decision – my life changes – that instant. I could decide that I want to do something different with my career – I act on that decision – my life changes that instant, for the better and I was in control.
You could decide right now to make your marriage better – your marriage could begin to improve – right now. You are in control. You could decide that you want to live like Christ – instantaneous change. You are in control.
Let’s take control of our lives and make positive life-changing decisions.
Prepare for that Instantaneous Change
How do we prepare for that “change?” Whether good or bad?
First of all, I think we all need to slow down and just be in the moment a little more. Don’t let every day be that same monotonous “boring” routine that we have to endure. We need to live purposefully. Be the change agent – don’t wait for change to hit you in the face. We need to plan, to prepare, to decide to change. Go outside for a little while and take a deep breath. Live today for today. Decide right now to make one big positive change in your life or at the least, decide to make a few smaller positive changes.
Many times we think that it is going to take some big miraculous event to change our lives. It doesn’t – we don’t have to wait for that event. We simply need to decide to make it happen. We are in control so let’s stop living like we aren’t. We all to often pretend like we are just victims of life that is happening around us. Take that control back – make a change right now.
We’ve seen quotes and heard songs that inspire us to “Live like we are dying.” I agree, we need to live like today could be our last, because it very literally might be. Don’t wait until that big life-altering event smacks you in the mouth before you decide to change your life for the better. Robert D. Smith says, “Do not wait for impending death to light the fire of action inside yourself.” Light it right now.
Another important focus to help prepare mentally for that big change, whether good or bad is to keep it all in perspective. We need to remember that this world is not our home. Something terrible may happen in our lives, but with the proper eternal perspective, it will help us prepare a little bit better. It doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard or difficult to go through, but even 60 years of <fill in the blank – hardship> will be worth it if we make it to Heaven. Keep the proper focus and perspective on this temporal life here on Earth.
Be the Constant in Someone Else’s Life
This whole article seems a little selfish I think. Not only should we be worried about ourselves and our lives and our hardships and how all of this impacts us, but I also hope that we can use these thoughts to benefit someone else. We need to be the constant in each others lives. Wouldn’t it make all of these difficult events a lot easier to go through or even more pleasant to go through the good times if we could be confident that there was a friend in our lives that was our constant – someone we could count on in good or bad times and we knew that ahead of time – they will always be there?
I hope in our lives that we have a constant. Someone that we know is always there. But, more than that – I hope that we are that constant for someone else. As spouses we should be that constant for one another. My wife should never have to wonder if I am going to leave her. My children should never question whether or not I will be around to watch them grow up (by my choice – knowing something tragic could still happen). My children should also know that even if they become the prodigal child and wander away from God, that I will always run out to greet them and welcome them back. My friends should know that I am their constant. My spiritual brother or sister should know that I will always be there for them when they need me. We need to be the constant in someone else’s life for those life-changing moments whether they happen to them or they decide for them to happen in that instant when they take control and make a life-altering decision.
One Thing is Always Constant
Our lives could change in a big way at any moment, but one of our greatest comforts is that in a life and a world where things are always changing around us – one thing always remains constant – and that one thing is Christ.
We have the blessing of knowing that Christ can be and wants to be our constant. Even if there are no other constants in our life – Christ is! He will always be there for us. He will always be. When life-changing events happen – what a comfort to be confident in.