“It was a great game.” Bing Crosby, who collapsed after sinking a final putt on a golf course in Spain. (1904-1977) “O my God! It is over. I have come to the end of it-the end, the end. To have only one life, and to have done with it! To have lived, and loved, and triumphed, and now to know it is over! One may defy everything else, but this.” Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
“My God, what’s happened?” Princess Diana Spencer in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, as recorded in the official police files in Paris. (1961-1997)
Humans are unique among all of God’s created beings. We are seemingly the only ones who understand the concept of death and after-life. We therefore are the only creatures who have been given the privilege of preparing ourselves for that coming day.
The great Apostle Paul was about sixty-five years of age when he wrote his last letter. It was addressed to his young protgé Timothy. About a month before he was martyred, Paul wrote these words. “The time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fightE I have finished the course.” Three pictures defined the Apostle’s view of life.
The first one was set in a nautical venue, “the time of my departure has come”. The Greek word that he chose to use for his leaving earth pictured a sailor in his ship setting out on a long voyage. It infers pulling up anchor, untying the ropes from the dock, setting his sails and catching a breeze into the open waters. Can you see the ship sailing out of sight to a far off destination?
A friend of mine used the same metaphor for her departure just a year ago. Judy was an avid kayaker, so three weeks before she died of ovarian cancer, she asked her husband and daughter to help her down to the lake near their home. Hardly able to walk, her family almost had to carry her to the waiting boat. After climbing in, gathering up her strength and donning her trademark smile, Judy told her husband Dave to turn on the video camera. Then she spoke of her undying love for her family and friends, and her deep faith in God. She quoted a couple of scriptures that had been a source of strength to her, pulled up anchor, waved good-bye and paddled out in the distance. I don’t need to tell you of the response from her gathered friends. I’ll come back next week to the second metaphor that the Apostle Paul used, “I’ve fought the good fight.”
Barry Buzza, a veteran pastor, is the president of the The Foursquare Gospel Church of Canada. www.foursquare.ca