“I feel something that is not of this earth.” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“I must go in, the fog is rising.” Emily Dickinson
“All my possessions for a moment of time.” Queen Elizabeth I
“Lord help my poor soul.” Edgar Allan Poe
“Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!” Karl Marx
These are the alleged last words of a few notable people. It’s just a theory, but I’m guessing what’s on our minds at the end of our time on earth probably correlates with what we believe to be most important in life.
I have “last words” on my mind because our family is experiencing significant milestones this spring: our youngest daughter is graduating from high school, and three weeks later our oldest daughter is getting married. (Fortunately, our son does not enjoy attention because his sisters are getting all of it these days!)
I believe my husband and I will continue to have opportunities to speak into the lives of our children, but it won’t be the same. And it shouldn’t be. Families need to change and grow, especially as we trust the Lord to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. It is perhaps most helpful in these times of transition to remember Who is in control and that He has only our good in mind.
So while there are a few moments left before the nest empties and our family expands in the best way possible, I’ve been thinking: what sort of “benediction” can we give these girls of ours?
I have been where my daughters are, so I know some of what they are about to experience. But even better, God knows. And He is sovereign over it all.
The bare-bones definition of sovereignty is, God is in control of and has authority over all things. Joni Eareckson Tada puts skin on this reality and speaks from experience when she says:
“Nothing is a surprise to God; nothing is a setback to His plans; nothing can thwart His purposes; and nothing is beyond His control. His sovereignty is absolute. Everything that happens is uniquely ordained by God. Sovereignty is a weighty thing to ascribe to the nature and character of God. Yet, if He were not sovereign, He would not be God. The Bible is clear that God is in control of everything that happens.”
As a mom, sovereignty is the pillow on which I can lay my head—to paraphrase Charles Spurgeon. I can release my children into these new seasons of life with great joy and anticipation because I know the God who made them loves them more than I do, knows exactly where He’s taking them, and will be with them every step of the way.
With sovereignty as a guiding truth, the only last words worth sharing are the ones from Scripture, the living words of the Father to His precious children. In both the Old and New Testaments, we find a storehouse of “last words” that are deep and rich enough to meditate on for a lifetime.
While the word itself isn’t readily found in Scripture, God’s sovereignty—or lordship—is in view everywhere you look.
Moses points us to God’s sovereignty when, standing on the border of the Promised Land he reminds the children of Israel that God did just as He promised He would and that His faithfulness will continue. With his last breaths King David exhorts his son Solomon to obey God in all things because He can be trusted no matter the circumstances. And at the end of Paul’s life, Paul assures Timothy that not one ounce of his suffering was wasted; Paul knows he will soon see how his earthly pain secured eternal glory.
The last words of these saints are instructive, because in these moments everything was stripped away. No more to-do lists or obligations, no more suffering or battling the flesh. Their minds were clear, the perspective was right, their eyes were fixed. This kind of clarity offers a faith we can “borrow” when we struggle to believe the truth we know.
Through relationship and experience these believers found that the Lord is exactly who He said He is: Faithful, Protector, Deliverer. Gracious, Generous, Merciful. They learned He is a God to fear and serve and worship, who blesses obedience, rewards in eternity, and promises to be with us to the very end. And they wanted everyone around them to know that, too.
There are hard “sovereignty-themed” questions that are rightly asked about sin and the world and why God does or doesn’t act or intervene. And odds are, my children will be faced with situations that challenge what they think they know about the One of whom Isaiah says, “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (45:7, ESV).
I pray the anchor of God’s sovereignty will help them hold on when the storms come and the fog of feelings tries to hide the light of truth.
God’s sovereignty is the right place to land when life is overwhelming. It should also prompt humility when we think we’ve got it all figured out. So as my children take steps into the unknown, I pray they learn more each day to rest their heads and hearts on the blessed sovereignty of the only wise God, who not only made them (Psalm 139:1-6) but loves them more than they can imagine (Romans 8:35-39).
May we all choose to submit every part of our lives to the One who rules over all our days and trust His life-giving Word to sustain us til the end.
LAST WORDS OF FAITHFUL SAINTS:
JOSEPH (Genesis 50:24, NIV):“I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
MOSES (Deuteronomy 33:26-29, NIV):“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. ...Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.”
JOSHUA (Joshua 24:14-16, ESV):“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
SAMUEL (1 Samuel 12:24, ESV):“Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”
DAVID (1 Kings 2:1-3, NIV):“I am about to go the way of all the earth...So be strong….and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”
PAUL (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV):“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
PETER (2 Peter 3:17-18, ESV):You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
JOHN (1 John 5:21; Revelation 22:20-21, ESV):Little children, keep yourselves from idols. …He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.