GOD AT THE MOVIES
Nine Things to Do Before Your 'Last Holiday'
By Jennifer E. Jones
Recently I accepted a gracious offer to go to Los Angeles to screen the new Paramount Pictures flick Last Holiday. In it, Queen Latifah plays a sheepish saleswoman who, upon learning she has three weeks to live, goes on a a wild adventure to Central Europe.
Immediately on the ride back to my hotel, I scribbled down my thoughts. “It was a delightful light-hearted comedy, albeit a bit predictable.” As a fan of both Queen Latifah and LL Cool J, it was great to see them in a feature together -- non-hip-hop related.
I wrote the review and sent it off. I thought that was it but Last Holiday got me thinking.
What if your time was up? What if you knew exactly when you were going to die – and it was going to be soon? What would you do? What would you regret having done?
Much like the movie’s leading lady Georgia Byrd, many of us have put dreams on the shelf of “someday.” As diverse as those dreams are, there a few things everyone should have on their list.
1. Dance to your favorite song. Now, I know that not everyone can dance, and Lord knows, a lot of people shouldn’t. However, there is something lifted when you let the rhythm of a song move your body. Plus, it’s the fullest way to appreciate good music. David danced before the Lord as a sign of worhsip, and he almost commands believers to do the same(Ps. 150:4). So even if you have to close the door and draw the shades, pump up the volume!
2. See the world (or at least a different part of it). It’s a cliché adventure but getting out of the country gives you an amazing perspective on life. Once you get off of your block, you see just how creative our God can be. There are so many options: staring at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean on a beach in Africa, walking on the same roads that Jesus did in Jerusalem, eating cherry tortes in Germany. Many glimpses of heaven can be seen beyond your present viewpoint.
3. Take your inner child out to play. I know people who blame everything on our childhood. It’s the reason they can’t commit. It’s the reason they can’t trust anyone. With every “I can’t” they say, they lay another brick in the wall that closes them off from enjoying life. If your inner child took a beating in your youth, it certainly doesn’t need your further abuse as an adult. Reconcile with your past. As the serendity prayer goes, there are things you cannot change, and the only recourse is to accept them. Perhaps by doing so, you can can give yourself permission to be a kid again and enjoy some fun in the sun.
4. Call a truce. I remember the demise of a relationship I had five years ago. I was moving away, and we both knew beforehand that we were breaking up. For two weeks leading up to my move, we fought like cats and dogs about everything: where we were going to eat, television shows, if brown matched with black (I still say yes). It was miserable until one day we decided we simply were not going to fight anymore. Just like that, it stopped. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to get along with someone if you just decide to pick your battles and make them few. Chances are what you’re arguing about won’t mean any more to you six months from now then it will six days from now. Of course if it will, that leads me to the next point…
5. Forgive someone. You know the one. I’m not sure what the person did. Maybe it's been so long you’ve even forgotten what they did, and you've just gotten used to hating them. But the point is, it hurt and it still hurts today. You’ve carried around the burden of loathing that person long enough. Whatever it was, let it go. Embrace the love that the Savior has for them. It will transform you too.
6. Eat more chocolate. Okay, maybe that one’s for me but you’ve got your own culinary indulgence. Maybe it’s ice-cream or cheesecake or KFC. We all have that one thing we love that we axe out of our diet due to carbs or calories or whatever we’re counting these days. I may offend all the health nuts out there but I prescribe to the Ecclesiastes 5:18 way of thinking: “I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot” (NIV). So eat the bon bon. Afterall, there are no size 6's in heaven.
7. Laugh more. You may think it’s funny (or probably not) but I think we take our lives way too seriously. I don’t know how Christians got this reputation for wanting to protest, ban, outlaw, sanctify, and control everything. Yes, the Christian walk is marked with suffering, and we certainly need patience, self-control and peace in order to deal with tragedies of life. But lighten up. My God talked about a “joy unspeakable” (KJV I Peter 1:8) that we should have for just being saved – for having the hope of heaven in our hearts. No matter what life looks like now, we know the end of the story. Every trial is for our good, and every sin is forgiven. That sounds like good news to me. It’s at least worth a smile.
8. Love.... And not necessarily being more romantic. I’m talking about the kind of love that flows amongst all relationships. This world is on a short supply of love, and the more tangible you can make yours the better. Hug your kids a little longer. Visit your eldery family a bit more often. Send flowers to someone who is completely unsuspecting. It sounds so simple but the reprocussions of the smallest kind act can resonate with someone more than you’ll know.
9. Find Jesus. Whether you’re discovering Him for the first time or rediscovering your faith, it’s never too late to climb into His arms. The Word says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13 NIV), and that includes those who may be staring the afterlife right in the face. I used to have my concerns about deathbed confessions but I realized that the date and time of your conversion isn’t worth splitting hairs about. It’s about knowing once and for all that accepting unconditional love is the smartest decision you’ll ever make.
One of my mother’s favorite phrases is: “Life is short.” And it’s true: it’s too short to hate, it’s too short to be uptight, it’s too short to not live.
So if you ever find yourself staring at your own “last holiday,” keep these in mind. Or better yet, take the life that you have now and live it out with the kind of abundance that would make Jesus proud.
Got comments? Drop me a line.
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