I just finished reading Chasing Daylight. It’s the story of Eugene O’Kelly, a CEO who discovers that he has inoperable brain cancer. With no chance of survival, he makes the decision to live the rest of his days as he has lived his life — intentionally.
While he had bucket-list items on his agenda, he was mostly concerned with bringing closure to his earthly relationships. He makes a list of everyone he wants to say “Good-bye” to. He categorizes his list into five circles with his wife and children being at the center.
In the outer circle, O’Kelly has 1,000 people. One thousand people.
In a risky move, he decides to start with the outer circle and move inward. It’s risky because he could run out of time. And by giving time first to the people in the outer circle, he could be short-changing the ones he holds closest to his heart.
Who do you hold in your heart? If you were given notice that you only had a few months to live, who are the people the you feel this way about about? Who are ones that you see as your partners in the gospel, partakers with you of grace? The ones who stand with you in trials? The ones that you know that, if you were separated from them, there would be a yearning hole in your heart?
Eugene O’Kelly comes to view his death sentence as a gift. It brings clarity to his life. And what he finds is most valuable is his relationships. However, he wonders about this outer circle.
“I thought about how, during my previous life, I might have unconsciously been too consumed by the outermost circle. At work, with constant demands on my time, I’d got into the habit of meeting with certain people–good people, nice people, but nonetheles fifth-circel people. Was it necessary to have breakfast with them four times a month? I could have done less than that. Had I somehow been inspired to draw my map of concentric circles earlier in my life, when I thought I had forever in front of me, I could have delineated for myself how important certain people were and how less important others were, and perhaps it would have guided me in how I allocated my time (or my energy). Perhaps I could have found the time, in the last decade, to have had a weekday lunch with my wife more than … twice? Where had I found the nerve to press so hard for our firm to rework its culture, encouraging our partners and employees to live more balanced lives, when my own was out of balance?
I realized that being able to count a thousand people in that fifth circle was not something to be proud of.” (p. 114)
I’m wondering a bit about my outer circle too. Am I “unconsciously consumed” by the outermost circle? Am I making time for lunches that keep me from investing in the yearning hole in my heart relationships? Are there relationships that I need to mend? Are there relationships I need to step back from? Who do I hold in my heart?
We are all finite. We simply can’t do it all. And we can’t have deep relationships and impactful lives when we are spread too thin.
Over the weekend, spend some time on these verses and consider your relational priorities. Who do you hold in your heart? If you knew your time on earth was limited where would you spend your time? Are there some coffee dates you need to cancel? Are there other relationships in which you need to invest?
I’m hearing that at the riverside is becoming part of your early morning routine. I’m honored. I believe that as we spend time in the Bible and in prayer each day, we will become more and more like Jesus. He will do an inside-out transformation in our lives. At the riverside is my offering to you of a little bit of Bible. I’d love it if you’d leave me a comment or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know how at the riverside is impacting you. And, if you want to be sure and not miss a post, please subscribe in the little box up-and-to the right. I’d love to hear from you!