What if You Had One Month to Live?
By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Senior Producer
What would you do if you only had one month to live? Would any of the priorities in your life change? These are the questions that pastor Kerry Shook and his wife Chris are asking in their book, One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life.
Shook is the pastor of a mega church outside of Houston, Texas. Having served in ministry for more than 20 years, the pastor and his wife have watched people as they walked through their last days of life, and they noticed that people’s attitudes often changed when they knew the end was near.
“They would do the things they always wanted to do, and say things they had always wanted to say,” Shook said. “They’d ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness more freely. They took more risks. It seemed like they had this whole new clarity on their priorities, and we just began to ask ourselves, ‘Why wait? Why can’t we live this way all the time?’”
With that question as their focus, the Shooks are challenging Christians to try this experiment for themselves. It’s a challenge that both Shook and his wife have already put into practice in their home.
“It’s really uncluttered our overcrowded schedule and helped us clarify things that are important. We’ve found that there are so many people that are glad to tell you what’s important and what needs to be done. If you don’t decide what’s important from the Lord, everyone else will tell you.”
In their book, the authors explore ways people can live life to the fullest and make the most of the time they have. The One Month to Live Challenge centers around four key principles.
“Live Passionately” calls readers to stop living with the “Someday Syndrome” and begin to live their lives with purpose, embracing all that God has for them. “We’d always say, 'Someday when things settle down we’ll really focus on the kids. Someday when things settle down then we’ll really do this or that,'” Shook said. “We realized finally that things are never going to settle down. We have to carve our life out of what’s going on right now.”
“Love Completely” focuses on people’s relationships with others. “We’ve noticed that most people, at the end of their lives, their biggest regrets are relationships,” Shook said. “Loving completely means don’t leave anything unsaid. Don’t leave anything undone. Express your love today. Write a letter of thanksgiving to someone today. Do whatever you need to do today.”
“Learn Humbly” discusses learning from problems and pain. The chapter also helps readers discover who God made them to be and how to best use the talents and gifts He has given them.
“Leave Boldly” encourages readers to live their lives in ways that will leave behind lasting legacies. "We build these elaborate sandcastles and they look like they are permanent," Shook said. "Maybe it’s a big business, or a house, or material possessions, but those things aren’t going to last. One day the tide of time will roll in and wash those all away. It’s the things you can’t see -- faith, hope, love, the souls of men and women -- that’s what lasts forever.”
The book is broken down into 30 short chapters, one for each day of the month. However, the challenge should not end when the month is over, Shook said. The authors hope that readers will take what they learn and turn it into a lifestyle.
The Shooks have developed a Web site, www.OneMonthtoLive.com, to help people apply the principles to multiple areas of their lives. The Web site offers financial and budgeting tips, diet and fitness plans, relationship tips, and tools for spiritual growth.
“I feel like the Christian life is not just a spiritual thing,” Shook said. “God wants to be in control of every area of our lives, our emotions, our relationships, our finances, and our physical health.”
Since extending this challenge to members of their own church, Shook said they have seen amazing results. Often, forgiveness plays a huge role in people’s lives when they take the challenge.
“We’ve been sort of surprised by it,” Shook said. “I guess it’s because if you think about the fact that you could meet your Maker in a month, you have this deep desire to get right with God and make sure you’re right with other people.”
Just before beginning the one month challenge, a woman in his church found out her 22-year-old son had been murdered. While she was completing the challenge, the sentencing phase of her son’s killer came about and she was allowed to address him in the courtroom. The judge advised her that she could say whatever she wanted to him as long as she didn’t shout or use profanity. To everyone’s surprise, she stood and read a moving letter to the killer.
“She stood before him and she said, ‘If I had one month to live, I’d want to forgive everyone including you. I choose to forgive you for my sake because I see Jesus standing next to you begging me to forgive you. And if somehow you become a saver of lives instead of a destroyer of lives, then maybe my son’s death won’t have been in vain.’ Then she used the next thirty days of her One Month to Live Challenge to visit him in prison and to write him letters,” Shook said. “He made a faith commitment to Christ in prison.”
For some people, like that woman, the changes in their lives are drastic. For others, they start out with small changes like spending more time with their spouses or their kids. The authors’ main desire, Shook says, is not to have people focus on death or the end of their lives, but to focus on how they live in the here and now.
“We challenge people to live the next 30 days as if it’s their last, not because they are going to die in a month,” Shook said, “but because, Lord willing, you are going to live many more years. But if you live the next month as if it’s your last, we believe at the end of the month you’ll be more alive than ever before. Even if you make a few little changes it can change everything.”
To learn more about the book and the One Month to Live Challenge purchase One Month to Live and visit www.OneMonthtoLive.com.
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