living life backwards

One of the many things I learned while doing a discipleship training year back in the UK in 2001, was the idea of living life backwards - considering what you would like to be remembered for after you die, and working backwards from there in order to work out what to invest your life in today.Pretty awesome advice I reckon, and it definitely helps us to focus on living for what is really important, rather than what seems important / urgent / fun in the moment.

As I was browsing online for a couple of things today, I stumbled across news of the death of an Anglican Bishop of the Arctic, Bishop John Sperry, who died on Feb 11 this year, aged 87.

The article immediately grabbed my interest as I read that John, like me, had been born in the English midlands, and yet had spent his life engaged in ministry and mission in a far-flung corner of the world - far from his birthplace, and also far off the beaten track of world affairs - a trajectory my own life also appears to be on.

The write-up of John's life and ministry from the perspective of another priest, also from the same part of the UK, and also based in Canada, is well worth a read.  And yet what really moved me, were the comments on the local newspapers website.

Here, it seems, was a man who chose to serve God in a far-flung corner of the world, far off the beaten track, far outside of the limelight, far away from any chance of fame or glory for himself, and yet the comments and memories of his family and friends show that he indeed lived a life of great significance.

I find myself moved, and challenged, by the life of a man I never met, in a place and am unlikely ever to visit, challenged to serve God humbly, wherever he leads me, and challenged, again, to live life backwards.