Today I welcome author and speaker Kathy Howard as a guest on my blog. Kathy is an excellent Bible teacher. This post is adapted from her new devotional book, “Deep Rooted: Growing through the Book of Acts,” which will show you how to interact with and apply Scripture, not just read it.
Weighty Last Words
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24 ESV).
We don’t always know when the last conversation we have with someone will be our last. My father’s death was unexpected, so the last time we talked we discussed casual, every day topics, nothing terribly significant.
My mother’s passing was different. She had a long, brutal battle with Alzheimer’s. For the last three years of her life, Mom lived near my brother in Tennessee. The journey was almost one thousand miles for me, but I went regularly. I visited them in February 2020, then the COVID lockdowns hit. Due to the disease, Mom could not Facetime or even talk on the phone. And she continued to decline.
In October 2020 the hospice director gave me special permission to visit her. God graciously provided this just two weeks before her death. Mom could not talk to me, but I told her how much I loved her and what a wonderful mother she’d been. I filled her in on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Our last moments together were sweet. I sang her favorite hymns, held her hand, and kissed her cheek. After reading Scripture, I reminded her how much Jesus loved her. These, my last words with her, were significant. Meaningful. Weighty.
The Importance of Last Words
Paul knew the importance of last words, the urgent obligation to say what needs to be said. On his way to Jerusalem, near the end of his third missionary journey, Paul had a burning message for the leaders of the Ephesian church. But knowing a visit to Ephesus would require too much time, he sent for the leaders to meet him along the way. These “elders” were the pastors and teachers of the church, the ones responsible for the spiritual formation of the believers.
First, Paul reminded them of his ministry in Ephesus. He poured out everything to proclaim the Gospel and to minister to the believers. He financially supported himself. He endured persecution. He humbly, but boldly taught everything they needed. Next, Paul warned them to be on guard against false teaching. Even some of these leaders would distort the Word of God for their own gain.
Paul left nothing unsaid. He held nothing back because he did not live for himself. Paul’s greatest desire was to complete the work Jesus gave him. To finish well. In his last known letter, the second to his spiritual son Timothy, Paul reflected on his life and ministry:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:6-7 ESV).
Paul’s last words describe a life lived all out for the Lord Jesus.
No regrets. Nothing left undone. When the end of my race draws near, I pray I will be able to say the same.
Pray: Lord Jesus, help me to live all out for You. To hold nothing back. To leave nothing undone. Amen.
Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate, richest coffee, and cherished stories of faith. She also digs deep into Scripture, mining God’s eternal truths. Kathy has a Masters in Christian Education and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years in a wide variety of venues. Kathy is the author of 11 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” Kathy and her husband live in north Texas. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Find free discipleship resources at www.KathyHoward.org. You can also connect with Kathy on Facebook and Instagram.