Final Words = Sum of Life
Job 12:12 “Wisdom is with aged men. With long life is understanding.”
As mother lay in the hospital, it became imminent the end was near. On her final night this side of eternity, mother whispered something almost inaudible. Certain that these words were of vital importance and very likely the last words I would ever hear her speak, I inched closer, held her feeble hand, and put my ear to her mouth. I prayed I could decipher her weak words. Quietly, she spoke the words, “Monday Meals.”
Certainly not what I anticipated as her life-encompassing, crowning words. I struggled to figure why she would expend her precious energy to say, “Monday Meals” when she had so few words left to speak on this earth.
Now, for those who do not know, Monday Meals is a program mother started from her kitchen as a means of feeding shut-ins. The program grew to the point that the church took over the program with mother at the wheel. As her health declined, others stepped up to the plate and continued the work.
But, “Monday Meals” as your final profound words? Then, it dawned on me. These final words summed up my mother’s life: a life of service. Her final concern was for the wellbeing of others and indeed this was the essence of her entire walk this side of eternity.
If we consider that a person’s final words can represent the sum of their life, final words should command our utmost attention. So, what can we learn from the final words of some of our heroes in scripture?
Let’s look first at Joshua. Joshua led the Israelites through many battles and was facing his final battle of impending death. As he addressed the Israelites for the last time, his heart poured out an admonition to choose to remain faithful to a God who had been faithful to them. His final vow, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” stands as an example of faith for all of us.
The Christian martyr, Stephen, as stones were being hurled at him because of his faith, used his final breath to utter the beautiful expectation of his eternity and plead forgiveness for his murderers. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” and “Do not hold this sin against them.” There is no sense of revenge found in these final words.
And, we mustn’t overlook the final earthly words of our Savior before he left this earth for an eternity with His Father. His words assured all of us of his authority as the Son of God and the importance of spreading the Good News of Christ to all people. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And, surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Yes, Jesus left us with a commission and a reminder that he would never abandon us.
Death is imminent to us all. For some, death comes quickly and without warning, leaving behind no profound final words. But, for others, a long earthly span with many detours in life’s road results in much wisdom. Someday, those final words may be ours to share. Among our final spoken words can be found the essence of who we are and who we have served. May we commit to yield to the Father as we faithfully navigate life’s detours and courageously speak wisdom to those we will someday leave behind.
Lord, may the difficulties of our lives store up wisdom in our hearts that can be passed on to future generations. May our final words, one day, reflect you.