Living Life Over Before It’s Over, Pt. 1
Study Guide, October 25, 2015 – Pastor Clay Olsen
Sharon’s father was mentored by a fellow Marine named Bob Boardman. In turn, Sharon’s father kept ‘passing it on’, mentoring others himself. Bob Boardman had fought in the South Pacific during WW11. In 1943 while carrying a wounded comrade from their tank that had been shelled and was on fire Bob was shot in the throat by a Japanese sniper. From then on he could only speak in a ‘husky whisper’. It wasn’t just a whisper, but since he was a tough marine, it was a ‘husky whisper’.
During the war he had become a Christian while reading through a Gideon New Testament; which is an example of how wonderful the Gideon Bible ministry has been through the years. After the war Bob was discipled by a man named Dawson Trotman, who many know as the founder of the Navigators Ministry. Bob then became full-time staff with the Navigators and committed to overseas missions. And guess what people group he chose to go witness to and serve? Right. He went to Japan to serve the Japanese people as the ‘Whispering Missionary’. He had lost friends and even his own voice by the hands of the Japanese, but he went back to tell them they had a Savior Who loved them and was waiting to give them His gift of forgiveness and eternal life in union with Him.
It’s an amazing testimony, and you can find out more about Bob Boardman on the internet. But when Bob was 59 years old he wrote an article for the Navigators entitled, ‘If I Could Live My Life Over’. You can also read that. And in the article he talks about things like; he would stand more boldly upon his God-given calling, and not be so fearful. And then he said that while they were young he would spend more time with his children in worship, in spiritual disciplines, and in just enjoying life. He would be quicker to turn from temptation and sin. He would be more systematic and single-minded in following a lifetime personal Bible study and Scripture memory program. He would be more determined in his one-to-one discipling ministry. He wrote that he would welcome trials and even failures as mends and as builders of his poor character. (What a humble self-image by this great man.) And he wrote that he would be more considerate, kind, tender, and communicative toward his wife, his children, and his fellow workers.1
Pretty impressive! And, again, you can read what he wrote about each of these things in the article, as we have posted how to find it in our Study Guides. But now here is where we are heading with this. As we stated, Bob Boardman was 59 when he wrote this article on if he could live his life over. He lived another 26 years after this and died at age 85. The point being; much of what he wrote about doing if he could live his life over he did live over before his life was over. That is a description of ‘Biblical wisdom’.
Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses. And in this prayer he prays this: Ps 90:12- “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” Holman Bible
About this prayer Barnes Commentary says, “The prayer is, that God would enable us to form such an estimate of life, that we shall be truly wise; that we may be able to act “as if” we saw the whole of life, or as we should do if we saw its end. God sees the end—the time, the manner, the circumstances in which life will close; and although He has wisely hidden that from us, yet He can enable us to act as if we saw it for ourselves; to have the same objects before us, and to make as much of life, “as if” we saw when and how it would close. If anyone knew when, and where, and how he was to die, it might be presumed that this would exert an important influence on him in forming his plans, and on his general manner of life. The prayer is, that God would enable us to act “as if” we had such a view.” (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)
God can enable us to act as if we see the whole of our life even to its end, and then act indeed on how we form our plans and how we conduct the general manner of our life, or conduct the specific manners and actions of our life. What we have in this prayer of Moses and instruction from God is a call for us to live life over before its over! We are called to look as much or more at how our life will end up than how it’s going now, and then make the most of today while it’s still called ‘Today’. We are called to live today as if we were at the end of our life writing an article on ‘If I could live my life over.’
Well, no doubt we could each start on a list like Bob Boardman did, and you may already have or now will, but in the coming study times we have together we’re going to point out some specific Biblical principles we each need to practice in living out today, again, while it’s still called ‘Today’. And the first one goes along with what Moses prayed about; living life as though we saw its end, not only the end for us, but also for others who have not repented unto salvation. And why is this important? Let’s look.
Recall another Psalm that spoke about the need to see people the way God sees people, particularly unsaved people. In Psalm 73, a Psalm of Asaph, he starts by looking at people through his own eyes, but he finishes by looking at people through God’s eyes. In Ps. 73:2-9 Asaph wrote, “My feet had almost stumbled. They had almost slipped because I was envious of arrogant people when I saw the prosperity that wicked people enjoy. They suffer no pain. Their bodies are healthy. They have no drudgery in their lives like ordinary people. They are not plagued with problems like others. That is why they wear arrogance like a necklace and acts of violence like clothing. Their eyes peer out from their fat faces, and their imaginations run wild. They ridicule. They speak maliciously. They speak arrogantly about oppression. They verbally attack heaven, and they order people around on earth.”
That’s a pretty depressing sight. What was going on? Well, as Aspah looked at the unsaved around him through human eyes, or through his natural and temporal understanding, he became envious of their prosperity and their seemingly pleasurable lives…until he saw them through a different sets of eyes. Notice what he wrote then.
Ps 73:17-19- “Only when I came into God’s holy place did I finally understand what would happen to them. You put them in slippery places and make them fall into ruin.
They are suddenly destroyed. They are completely swept away by terror!” GOD’S WORD
Suddenly Asaph saw these people whom he once envied with pity toward them now…and why? Because he saw what was about to happen to them. Once he replaced his partial temporal picture of life with God’s complete and eternal picture of life it changed everything Aspah saw after that. And it will be the same for us. To see life, to see people of this life accurately and realistically, we must see life not as this partial temporal picture before us, but see it as it really is, see the complete eternal picture that is all around us. We must see life from God’s eternal point of view and not from our own temporal point of view. And if we have not been looking at life this way then one thing we need to live out in the rest of our life that we have before us, or before this life we have is over, is replace this partial temporal picture of life with the complete eternal picture of life…the picture that God has revealed to us about what’s really going on in this life and what’s really going on in the next, in life beyond death.
In fact, we need to see people around us the way that Asaph began to see them. Concerning those who do not fear God, or concerning those who have not surrendered their heart and lives to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we need to look at them not just in terms of what’s happening in their lives, but in terms of what’s about to happen in their lives. For what is about to happen to the unsaved person is more important than anything that’s happening to them now or has ever happened in their life. As Asaph saw, they are on the verge of complete ruin and utter destruction. Mark it down: What’s going to happen when a person’s life comes to an end is more important than anything that’s ever happened to them before.
I’ve been thinking about Steve Jobs, the brilliant mind behind Apple computers and the IPad and IPhone and on and on. I didn’t see the movie about his life and I don’t know what was revealed in it about his faith. But concerning his faith, what’s written about him is that he rejected his Christian upbringing at age 13. In the post-sixties he traveled to India and came back embracing Zen Buddhism as his faith. One article about this said that traces of the Eastern religions have made it into the pockets of millions of Westerners thanks to the ‘deep influence’ of Zen Buddhism in the life of the late Steve Jobs. The article also said that many are still trying to make sense of his final words, “Oh wow, Oh wow, O wow” that his sister related to the New York Times. He had professed uncertainty as to whether God exists, and is recorded as saying, “I’m about fifty-fifty in believing in God.”2 We pray that perhaps before he left this life that he had embraced the Savior and Lord Jesus that he had earlier rejected, and perhaps had a ‘thief on the cross’ like experience…but we don’t know.
What we do know is this; that what is happening now in the life after death of Steve Jobs is more crucial and important and significant than anything that ever happened in his life in his career with Apple computers. Again, we pray that Steve Jobs did repent toward God and surrender in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior before he left Earth, but if he did not…well, either way, the need for every person on Earth to do this would be the most important thing that he would tell others that they need to do in their life while they still have a choice. And if he hadn’t received Christ as his Savior in his life, he would now want to warn others and say that this is what he would do if he could live his life over.
We know that to be sure because of the testimony we already have of an unsaved rich man after he died. Luke 16:22-31- “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. (This is a different Lazarus than the Lazarus of Bethany that is resurrected.) And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” NASU
Note carefully, this was not a parable that Jesus was teaching. This was a historical account of two people, no doubt two people who were known by some those to whom Jesus was speaking. Jesus was opening up the veil to show us what happens for the saved and the unsaved right after we leave Earth. It is a picture of what’s is going on right now in the lives of both the saved and the unsaved since they left Earth. And it reveals this to all of us: What happens then and forever after is more important than anything that’s ever happened in our life before.
Plus, it even shows the danger of people rejecting the authority of the truths of the Bible. Like Abraham said to this unsaved man in Hades, that if his brothers were rejecting the most powerful witness of the Scriptures, then they would continue to reject any other witness, even if someone were to rise from the dead. Even today, after Jesus Christ has risen from the dead as a witness to the whole world, people continue to reject the witness of both Jesus and the Scriptures that are calling all people to repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the danger of hardening your heart against the Words of God.
But the reality is that every person on earth is but a heartbeat away, one breath away, one step away from entering either Hades or Heaven. What happens when you do leave Earth is more important than anything that is happening in your life now or has ever happened before. That’s how God sees people. That’s how Asaph learned to see people. And that’s how we are to see people if we are looking at them through the lenses of the Bible, looking at them realistically.
We have mentioned before, but it bears repeating here, that wisdom is living your life not forward, from where you are now to the end, but living your life backward, from the end to where you are now. For the believer, it’s living your life the way you will wish you had lived your life when standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Well, in our study times to come we’ll explore some more of the precepts and principles from the Scriptures concerning living our life over before it’s over.
- Bob Boardman, If I Could Live My Life Over, discipleshiplibrary.com
- Joshua Little, What do Steve Job’s final words mean? New York Times, faithstreet.com