My father-in-law died from a stroke a few years ago. He lived in Ontario, Canada, and we were unable to go see him before he passed away. I feel regret when I think about my interactions with him after I married his daughter. He was a gruff man and was hard to talk to. He was a farmer, a horse-breeder, and an auto body repairman. We never seemed to have much in common to talk about when we were together, and thanks to Julie’s and my decade of missionary work in Africa—and our life in Illinois after that—I wasn’t able to see him much. Whenever we were together, we always had surface conversations about things that really didn’t matter. I prayed for him often, but what I regret the most is that I never found a way to talk to him about Jesus. When I heard that he had died, I felt a deep twinge of regret. Regret always tastes bitter, because you know that you no longer have the chance to go back and do something that you now wish you had done.
I love the song “Slip on By,” by Finding Favor, which tells the story of an old man fishing by the riverside who struck up a conversation with a young man next to him. The old man tells the young man about all the things he regrets having missed in his life. He doesn’t know where all the time has gone: He feels as if he just woke up and found himself 83 years old. He wishes he had held his young bride when they first fought, wishes he hadn’t hung up the telephone on his mother the day she died, and regrets not spending time playing with his son when he was young—not least because his son grew up, went to war, and died. He says that what hurts the most is knowing what could have been. The song ends with a reminder that we are only here on earth for a little while and we must not let this precious time slip by.
The cure to not letting life “slip by” is living life intentionally. It is so easy to sit still and just let life happen. Are you ready to get off the couch and intentionally do something you know you need to do?
REFLECTIONS: Is there someone in your family that you have never talked to about Jesus and you know in your heart you would regret that if they died suddenly? You have no right to “cram Jesus down their throat” but maybe you can come up with an honest, respectful way to offer to talk to them about Jesus if they are willing.
Now I know that none of you of whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.