“Are we home yet?”

Those words still ring in my memory after many years. Our family would be heading home from some type of trip, and throughout the journey my girls would frequently ask, “Are we home yet?” My usual response? “No, not yet. Go back to sleep.” (Or, “Hang in there, we’ll be home soon.”)

The question is not just a kid’s question.  I’ve thought the same thing, “Am I home yet?” And I’ve said, “I’m so ready to be home.”
What do you usually say when you’re in the “final stretch” of a journey? You’re almost at your destination. You’re extremely weary and in desperate need of rest. Perhaps you’re in physical pain from the rigors of the trip. You’re eager to be finished. When you open your mouth to speak, what will your words describe? Joy? Celebration? Relief? Frustration? Disappointment? Anger?
Suppose for a moment that the journey under consideration is your life. You know that your life on earth is ending; death is the next exit along life’s interstate highway. Your family and friends have gathered around you to visit and to say goodbye. Emotions seem intense as each person present strives to make sense of the occasion. You’ve given serious thought to your final words, assuming and perhaps hoping that your last thoughts will be taken to heart by the hearers. What are your final words?
Final words. I’m intrigued by a person’s last words. They seem to hold a profound meaning while they often exert a powerful influence. Regarding this issue of “final words,” could I share a personal experience with you? A while back I was asked by the leadership of my home church to serve as the guest speaker at the July 4th evening service. (Our minister was out of town celebrating the birth of a new grandson.) Since the occasion was a church service, I obviously began considering topics of a spiritual nature. One subject kept returning to my heart—the death of Jesus on the cross, particularly the seven statements he uttered while on the cross. My interest increased as I read the Biblical accounts of his death and the events which led up to the crucifixion.
As a whole, Jesus’ final statements were unexpected, compassionate, tender, puzzling, understandable, declarative, and revealing. He surprised everyone by praying first for his enemies (“Father, forgive them. . . .”). Compassionately, he extended grace to a penitent thief (“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”). He tenderly arranged for the care of his beloved mother (“Woman, behold your son.” “Son, behold our mother.”). In words that puzzled the onlookers, he reached out in personal prayer to his heavenly father (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Understandably, he requested water because of his severe thirst and dehydration. He declared that his life, his mission on earth, was finished (“It is finished.”). His final statement revealed his destination (“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”).
I don’t know how much forethought Jesus had given to what his final words on earth would be prior to his death. In a way they seem to be spontaneous, a heart-felt response to the moment. If so, the statements reflect clearly the lifestyle Jesus had lived. His final words were consistent with the values by which he had lived and with the message he had preached. He remained true to his identity and individuality, and he maintained his personal integrity even in the midst of extreme pain and humiliation.
The same “three I’s” are important to me:  identity, individuality, and integrity. I wonder if I will be able to maintain them during my “final time.” Will my final words be consistent with my current lifestyle and message? How will my final statements be received or interpreted by the people who may happen to be present? Or will I be alone at that time? Will some of my final words to be my heavenly father, as was the case with Jesus? From a perspective of personal faith is it even possible to die alone? Jesus has promised to be with me, even to the end of the world. If he is faithful to his promise, he will be with me as I’m dying. Therefore, I will not and cannot die alone. I find much comfort in his promise; I feel much confidence in his power.  I value the truth expressed in the statement “If I live as though Jesus never died, someday I will die as though Jesus never lived.” The implications of this statement are powerful and purposeful in my choice of a life-purpose and a lifestyle.
As I travel through life, my current lifestyle affects my individual well-being and my relationship health. This lifestyle will also determine the specific destination of my journey as well as the manner in which I complete the journey. Lifestyle includes both preparation and readiness. Speaking of readiness, I heard a story many years ago about an elderly Christian lady who was asked by a young minister about her preparation for the end of life. I appreciate the wisdom contained in her response:  “I always keep my suitcase packed!”
What I say as my “final words” will be determined to a great extent by how I travel my day-to-day journey now.  If I travel with doubt, my last statements will probably be words of doubt; if I travel with faith, my final words will be statements of faith.
In regard to your current lifestyle and your “final words,” what guides your journey through life?  What “roadmap” are you following? Who are your traveling companions? What’s your destination? These questions are issues with which I’ve struggled. I can’t help but wonder if you struggle with them as well.
A healthy and successful journey through life involves growth in all areas of human development, including spirituality. The effective traveler will understand that spiritual wisdom provides insight and direction which are necessary ingredients to his journey. Insight increases personal growth; direction insures movement toward the desired destination.
I wish you the very best in all of your personal and relationship travels.
Oh, one additional thought. If you choose to enrich your spirituality through a study of the Christian faith presented in the Bible, you may be interested in hearing the previously-mentioned lesson I presented about Jesus’ final words from the cross. The twenty-seven minute lesson can be listened to online. To find the audio presentation, go to the Home Page and click on the Resources tab/List of Resources/Audio Travel Guides, and scroll down the list to find the entry entitled, “The Sermon from the Cross.” Or, if you prefer, simply click on the Play button below to listen to the audio presentation.



(To listen to an audio version of this blog entry, click the Play button below.)

                    (Blog: SG#1401)

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