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Live While You Can
By: Bill Easum

I was driving down the two-lane road that leads to my home. I call the road "Snow Bird Ally" because in the fall the road is cluttered with retirees from the North. They never go the speed limit. They will never pull over even though there is an extra lane. And they never spend much money.

As I pass these people, I notice that most of them are younger than I am. And it boggles my mind that they are on their way to vegetate with little to nothing to do or accomplish except live out their remaining days doing nothing constructive.

I feel for these people and wonder how someone can check out of life so early. I'm 75 and still have so much left to do before I go. I wonder what allows them to just float through their last years? They have so much experience to share.

I also wonder why the suicide rate is so high in our country among younger adults.  One in 12 teenagers attempted suicide last year. That's hard to believe when there is so much to do before you go and they just got started in life.

Two years ago, I held my wife's hand as she passed from this life to the next. One moment, she was alive; the next second, she was gone. That's the way life is…here today and gone tomorrow. That's why it's imperative to live while you can. Time is too short on this planet to just vegetate if you're healthy enough to get up in the morning.

So, what is your next goal in life? That's right…even though you are retired or about to retire or 100 years old, what are you planning to do with the second half of your life?  Why do you get up in the morning?

I have a clue for you…there is nothing more fulfilling than to know you are doing what God put you here to do. Why not put that gun down or throw that pill away and make something out of your life instead of committing suicide?

Here are some thoughts for retirees on how to spend the rest of your life:

• Is there anything in life you've always wanted to do but never had the time? Are their things still left on your Bucket List? Now's the time to check them all off. Pursue your passion. You have nothing but time, so why not take a whack at doing what you've always dreamed of doing?

• You may want to take a look at www.halftime.org. It will open up many doors through which you could enter.

• You should clean up the slate by resolving any resentments or misunderstandings while there is still time. No one should leave this planet being misunderstood.

• Write your autobiography. You've lived a long time and have many experiences and learned many things. Share it with those coming after you.

• Join a group designed for people your age. You will find many people going through the same issues or problems you are having.

• If you have the funds, take a trip to some place you've never gone and experience a whole new world.

• Avoid a sedentary life such as becoming a couch potato. Join a fitness group if you are healthy enough. Keeping fit will help your energy level and allow you to do much more with your life.

• Don't spend all your time counting pennies. Hopefully you have enough to live on, but even if you don't, you have to treat yourself now and then.

• Volunteer to work in a hospital or rest home and make yourself useful and fulfilled. You'd be surprised at what you might learn.

• Be a mentor. Find a young person and spend time with them and make a difference in their life.

However, living while you can doesn't just apply to retirement. What about the teenagers who take their lives? What can we say to them?

• If you're a teenager, pimples and all, remember that you're here for a reason. You didn't just pop out of your mother's womb; God brought you forth for a purpose. So find it and do it. You'll never be disappointed.

• Find someone you admire and ask them to become your big brother or mentor.  Take the time to learn from them and to share your world with them.

• Never do drugs of any kind. They will dull your sense and make life appear less meaningful that it is.

• Look for the good things that have happened in your life. No really, take a good long look for them. Usually, you'll be surprised.

What about the terminally ill?

• If you have just a short time to live, search for the reason God put you here and focus on that instead of your illness.Spend your last days making a difference in this world.

• Don't worry about leaving any money to your kids – blow it all on something you've really wanted to do. You earned it; you deserve to treat yourself. If you have any left, give some of it to your favorite charity or church. I've seen too many young people ruined because their parents left them too much money.

Life is so precious that none of us should waste a moment of it. Anytime we waste a moment, we're robbing the world of what we can give back to it. And, yes, everyone has something to give back. It doesn't matter how old you are or how sick you are, or how tormented you are…as long as you are alive and can think and move, God has something for you to do or give or else you would no longer be here.

Let me give you an example. My wife taught me several valuable lessons the last year of her life. Keep in mind she couldn't make a sentence or control her bodily functions, but she could smile in the midst of a horrible situation. We had many wonderful one-way conversations. And in those conversations she taught me two things: patience and a commitment to make the most out of what time I had left.

So, no matter how bad your situation, God still has a plan for your life. Find it and do it.

Bill Easum is the founder and president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full-service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christians for global impact, www.effectivechurch.com.

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