What Really Matters in Life
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“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that was devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months.
Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come.
As I read his book, I found it inspiring and causing me to think about what I would say under a similar assignment. Throughout history people have tried to determine what really matters in life. Socrates said it was knowledge; Aristotle said self realization and Epicurus said it was pleasure. I know that for me it is a moving target. What mattered to be in my younger years and especially before I became a Christian are totally different from what matters now.
Years back, I would focus on the material things….Power, position and possessions. But now my focus is on family, faith friends and relationships. As Paul said to the church at Corinth, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Randy’s last lecture was like that. It was a one of a kind lecture that made the world stop and pay attention. Knowing he had only weeks to live, he said “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
As I read his book I thought, what wisdom would I impart to the world if I knew it was my last chance? If I knew I was going to vanish tomorrow, what would I want as my legacy? Randy’s lecture was not about dying; it was about living…. living a life that really leaves a legacy and one that makes a difference for the better in the lives of people left behind. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think.” It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.
The older I get, the more I realize that it’s the little things that count, but little things can move mountains when they inspire and motivate people.
Lord, help me to focus less on this life and more on the life to come.
Questions: What is priority in your life today? Does God fit into your dreams for the future?