“I used to be able to” is spoken by the elderly, not always in ways of longing and despairing for those days long past, but many times. It can be difficult to watch others do what you yourself used to accomplish with ease, but now because of a deteriorating body can do no longer that which was once easy.
If the Lord so determines to bless you with a long life, one of many decades than this thought will be inevitable, and so one must prepare for it. “For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” (prov. 3:2) Each time I read that verse in Proverbs I am both thankful and a little depressed, for long life means time not spent in the presence of the Lord, yet I remember that it is ridiculous to compare a few short decades to eternity.
Here is another short statement that you will hear from those who can count the years of their lives in extended decades, “I no longer want to,” but these words come only from those who have contemplated the desires of the flesh and the world in relation to the Word of God. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)
It takes much effort and sacrifice to achieve certain goals in this life, to be able to summon ones talents at will means that person has spent countless hours at the craft they have chosen, it has become in a sense their life’s work, and those individuals who have not prepared for the days that can clearly see the sunset of their lives may well utter this third statement quite often, “I wish I would have.”
To those who can say they no longer want to, and do so in all honesty, there is a growth that few reach, they more than realize that the flesh, the body, is no longer capable of achieving those feats, but they no longer pine after them, they are not missed, and so despair is averted.
There is an old saying worth repeating here, “Sometimes it’s better to remember you could do something, instead of attempting to do it again.” But I fear that few reach this wisdom, and although they will in no way attempt these feats that were so easy in their youth, they will despair for being unable to, and it is these that will end life saying, “I wish I would have.”
Hell is full of people who repeat these words constantly, but so is heaven, for now they know, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12) And they can clearly see what they should have been, what the life that was offered them here could have been.
It may be tiring to some of you to read that verse in Philippians 1:21 that I reference so often, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” but if you will but contemplate it along with these three statements offered to you in this short letter, and keep in mind the incredible speed at which this life passes us by, perhaps a fervency to bring glory to God will fill your lives, a great desire to reach all who will listen of what is offered to all in Christ Jesus.
Eternity is a long time my friends. If you are no longer able to, yet at the same time truly do not any longer want to, you are indeed blessed, but only if that energy that was once applied to the desires of the world is now set towards the glory of God. If not, then “I wish I would have” is a statement you might want to get used to listening to yourself repeat.