The last words spoken by an individual just prior to exiting this life are often telling. Telling of the kind of life they have lived upon this Earth, telling of the values they have held, and certainly telling of the hope they do, or do not embrace as they depart. In their words, some have communicated a more reflective, somber tone. Others seem to have taken a cavalier bent, while others I am sure have been caught off-guard, surprised at the expediency of the event, though the markers of an impending exit were imminent. Though many have had a lifetime to consider eternity, some statements may have been quite impromptu, or even contrived, yet still, they too are telling.
Their words communicate the reality of stepping into eternity:
Perhaps it is a quip, a vague attempt at comedic relief in order to mask the fear of death;
Perhaps it is one last vainglorious plug to promote their legacy as they pass;
Perhaps it is a dramatic lament in that they suspect where their journey ends;
And for some, it is a simple, serene expression of the security of their faith in God.
A wide variance to be sure, but I would imagine all bespeak the condition of the heart at that time.
Here are a few of the final worlds of some notable individuals:
“I’ve never felt better.”–Douglas Fairbanks, actor
“What an artist dies in me! It is now too late.”–Nero, Roman emperor
“Don’t you dare ask God to help me!”–Joan Crawford, actress
“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”–Pancho Villa, revolutionary
“A party! Let’s have a party.”–Margaret Sanger, founder Planned Parenthood
“My God, what’s happened?”–Princess Diana, princess
“I have been everything, and everything is nothing. A little urn will contain all that remains of one for whom the world was too little.”–Severus, philosopher
“Oh Wow! Oh Wow! Oh Wow!”–Steve Jobs, entrepreneur
“Swing low, sweet chariot.”–Harriot Tubman
“Ah, is this dying? How I have dreaded as an enemy this smiting friend.”–Thomas Goodwin, Puritan
At some point each of us will utter our last words, some as a harbinger of destiny. For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, it is a Beautiful Journey Home.
John S. Hoyland captured the true grace of this moment in prose:
We thank Thee, O our Lord,
For Thy great enterprise of death,
Wherein the tiny barque of our soul,
Having loosed its cables, fares north gallantly into the night.
Though the waves run dark and fearful,
Though there be neither moon nor star,
Though there be no human knowledge of the farther shore,
Yet shall we fare forth with joy on this the greatest of all adventures.
May we care nothing then for ourselves,
But be filled with the joy of exploration and discovery,
Wholly intent on the great and glorious prize beyond the lonely voyage,
On the certainty of finding at last
That beside which all else in earth and heaven is nothing worth–Amen.
For myself, as I prepare for the journey, I would hope just to focus my thoughts for the transition, and to plead, “I must go now; my Shepherd will walk me the rest of the way Home.”
Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of Yahweh is the death of His holy ones.” When one dies in the Lord, it is seen as precious since he or she is “coming Home” to be present with Him forever; it is the fulfillment of the calling of the Lord, and the fruition of a faithful Journey.
Many have no hope, and their utterances at the final moment will hint as to their eternal destination. It is not yet too late, but the “boats of our souls” are departing every day… every hour.
What final utterance will part your lips?
Whatever your last words may be, make certain in this life that you receive the redemptive work of Christ Jesus as your Savior, your Lord, and live your life in such a way as to anticipate His first words as He greets you, “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into My rest.”