The loss of a loved one causes us to take stock of what is really important in our life. This is especially true with an unexpected death. We tend to take pause and reevaluate our own life. We chip away at everything superfluous in an effort to reveal our core priorities. It’s a time to revise our to-do list.

A number of years ago, the phone rang. The voice on the other end shared news that shocked my senses. My sister-in-law had died instantly in a car accident. In a matter of seconds her life was taken from us. Our family was catapulted into a state of grief as we mourned not only her death, but the things she would never experience.

She would never see her grandchildren, dance to a mother-son wedding song or attend her children’s graduations; she never had an opportunity to say good-by. She left this world with nothing but her soul and a mental to-do list.

Yesterday death visited again. I received news that a lifelong friend and family member passed away unexpectedly. He was one of my daddy’s best friends. His faithful visits during my Daddy’s battle with cancer were so appreciated. Even after my Daddy’s death, he called weekly to see if my mom needed anything. Yet, like my sister-in-law and my daddy, in his death, he left this world with nothing but his soul and a mental to-do list. Death rescinded any worldly advantage he may have known.

“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (I Tim. 6:7).

Death causes us to reflect upon the briefness of life. We are reminded that what we do on earth affects our destiny in eternity. We grow to understand our to-do list should be connected to what lies beyond this life. Only God knows what knows what lies beyond; He is the one who determines if our earthly to-do list was meaningful.

You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

At some point, we will all depart this world with nothing but our soul and a to-do list. When God looks at our list, will He say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23)?

I want my to-do list to include eternal directives; things of substance with efforts that are directed toward something infinite. When I depart this world, I want to do so with a heavenly to-do list that elicits a, “Well done!” response from God. What’s on your eternal to-do list?

If you need help getting started, here are some suggestions.

• Visit a mission field. You will never be the same.

• Learn how to pray effectively.

• Volunteer in your community.

• Visit a nursing home and minister to patients who rarely have visitors.

• Give a needy child or family a special Christmas.

• Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.

• Become involved in the life of someone who isn’t a believer or a Christian and who is struggling with faith issues.

• Once a month, befriend a homeless person and buy them lunch, clothes and shoes.

• Relinquish your pride.

• Pay for a child to go to church camp.

• Donate a prepaid gas card to your church. It costs money to gas up those church buses every week.

• Gift a struggling family in your church or community with a gift card to a local grocery store.

• Assist a widowed woman or disabled person with lawn care or house cleaning.

• Anonymously send a card of encouragement to someone going through tough times.

• Send a box of personal goods to a missionary family.

And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13: 16)

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