WARNING: The following story may stir up a need to respond!
Scottish essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle married his secretary, Jane Welsh, and they seemed outwardly happy. Thomas was so deeply devoted to his work he hardly noticed when his wife’s health began to deteriorate. The disease that wracked her body finally confined her to bed. Carlyle truly loved her, but found it difficult to stay with her or give her much attention during the illness. After several years, Jane died. The day of her funeral was stormy, and they buried her beside the church despite the rain and mud.
Carlyle returned to his house and found it suddenly, eerily quiet. He went upstairs to Jane’s bedroom and sat in a chair next to her bed. That’s when he discovered her diary. On one entire page she had written a single line: “Yesterday he spent an hour with me and it was like heaven; I love him so.” On another page his heart broke as he read: “I have listened all day to hear his steps in the hall, but now it is late and I guess he won’t come today.” He set down her journal, ran out of the house and made his way back to the churchyard. Found later by his friends, Carlyle was kneeling by her grave, covered in mud. With tears running down his cheeks, he cried: “If I had only known.”
Life is not like DVD players and TiVo recorders; life doesn’t have a rewind button. You can’t go back and replay it! In his book, When the Game is Over, John Ortberg warns of four things you never want to have to say:
- I should have loved more deeply.
- I should have laughed more often.
- I should have given more generously.
- I should have lived more boldly.
I would add a fifth one: I should have followed Him more closely. May the Lord help all of us live with few regrets!
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'” -Matthew 25:40 (NKJV)