Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Imminent departure

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.
2 Timothy 4:6 (NIV)

Tombstones speak volumes. The words carved into the hard rock markers say a great deal about the life that a person lived. Take for example the headstone of Gussie. "Here lies the body of a girl who died. Nobody mourned and nobody cried. Nobody knew and nobody cared." Quite a sad commentary on the life of a young, unloved orphan girl.

Then we have the more amusing inscription that commemorates the life of inquisitive Harry Edsel Smith. "Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was." Harry's curiosity was short lived.

Arrested again, after ministering freely for several years, the Apostle Paul's second letter to his young assistant Timothy indicates that his life here on earth was nearly over. In one of the three letters called the Pastoral Epistles, Paul writes to his disciple in order to support and encourage him in his ministry. Tradition has it that soon after writing what has been called his swan song, or his last will and testament, Paul was beheaded on the Ostian Way, west of Rome.

Referred to as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13), Paul's moving letter provides a glimpse into the heart of the man and missionary. After a lifetime of service and suffering, with no self-pity and no regrets, he faces death without fear and without doubt.

It stands to reason that a person is remembered at life's end by how they lived the years since their birth. Modern day author and speaker Linda Ellis describes it as "living our dash"--ensuring that we live to the fullest the years between the beginning of life and the end. In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul gives us insight into what drove his dash--his life's mission. "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

How do you think Paul's tombstone would read? Would the inscription call out "In Christ Alone" (2 Timothy 1:9-10) or perhaps "Never Ashamed" (Philippians 1:19-21). Maybe the solid granite would shout, "Free at Last" (Ephesians 6:19-21) or possibly "Finally, Home." (2 Corinthians 5:6-10)

I've thought about the words that will, by the grace of God, one day sum up my life. I'm working toward, "She loved Jesus. They knew." Or possibly the epitaph will be a bit on the lighter side, "Construction complete. Thanks for your patience."

How's your dash, dear friend. Are you preparing for your departure by living each of your todays to its fullest?

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

PS My mission - To give God the glory as I become worthy of His trust and come to know and make known His Son Jesus, The Christ, in the world that I serve. (Philippians 1:19-21)

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