Have you ever thought about writing a Last Will and Testament?
To be honest, I have never given it much thought, until I got the diagnosis. I had always assumed that people with lots of money, property and/or assets were the only ones who crafted such a document and since I have none of those things, it never entered my mind as a possible activity to do. Yet, of late, I have been contemplating it.
If you were to write a Last Will and Testament what would you say?
If you were given a diagnosis, would your life change?
Moreover, would the conversations that you initiated be colored with this new revelation. “Why yes, didn’t you know that you are indeed mortal and there is an end to this linear timeline?”
One of the most intriguing people in the bible is Paul aka Saul of Tarsus. You may have already guessed the source of my fascination with him. Yes… you’re right, it is my fixation with butterfly’s… metamorphosis, transformation, and the way God can make some creatures anew. Paul’s metamorphosis truly was from one form to another. He morphed from being a persecutor of Christians and an accessory to the brutal murder of Stephen (Acts 7), into one of the most committed and faithful disciples of “The Way” (Acts 9: 2), after his amazing encounter with the resurrected Christ on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9: 1-18).
Many people doubted the sincerity of his conversion. Believing that such a transformation could not occur and therefore, continued to accuse and judge him for his deeds. I am sure this weighed heavy on him. For myself, if I were in his shoes, I would be asking, “when are they going to forgive? Will they ever forget? Can I ever make amends for my crimes”? No doubt, he had these thoughts during the times he was confined and imprisoned for his faith (Acts 28: 16-31). He had time to contemplate. Yes, I know what you are thinking… he did write and did share with everyone he encountered so he was very busy during the day but at night….in the dark of night, I am sure it crossed Paul’s mind. He was human after all.
So what did Paul do? How did he cope?
He wrote his Last Will and Testament. Case in point… Paul wrote the books of Philemon, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians . The words, breathed by the Holy Spirit, are colored by Paul’s experience: a mystery of God.
Paul determined to make his last words and his life, for that matter, count. There are no grantees regarding how long we will be given to serve God. Life is only a breath or as long as the days given to a butterfly. Moreover, life is as fragile as the powdery flutter-wings so easily crushed by the stubby fingers of a little child attempting to cradle and nurture.
Its true. Paul knows his end most likely is near. He remembers becoming a Christian on the road to Damascus over two decades prior. He reflects on his on previous brushes with death… those wild and gooney missionary journeys traveling through out the ancient world. 2 Corinthians 11: 24 lists some of them for us, just in case we are tempted to believe we have sacrificed all.
Five times the Jewish leaders had me beaten with 39 lashes; three times Roman officials beat him with clubs. Once people tried to stone him; three times was shipwrecked, and I drifted in the water in the open sea for a night and a day. Because I’ve traveled a lot, he faced dangers from raging rivers, from robbers, from the Jews, and from Gentiles. He faced dangers in the city, in the open country, on the sea, and from believers who turned out to be false friends. He went without sleep, food, water, and clothes during cold weather.
Wow, he certainly presented his body as a living tithe! Paul threw every part of his being onto the alter and what a sweet and fragrant aroma it was.
By the way, have you ever noticed Paul’s prayers? They are amazing. In my opinion, these prayers are a primer for us. Paul prayed fervently for all believers; his sons and daughters; his fellow workers and soldiers for the faith which encourages me greatly because he most likely prayed for us future believers and even those of us in the 21st century! Take a look at these prayers?
Ephesians 1: 17-23
Ephesians 3: 14-21
Colossians 1: 9-12
Colossians 4: 3-4
The love letters that God inspired Paul to write, deal with multiple places, personalities, and conflicts that teach us how to live out our faith. They reveal a man whose last words, not only chided, encouraged, scolded, questioned, preached, and loved— but sometimes did so all at the same time and to the same group.
The Book of Philemon gives a unique glimpse into this great missionary’s personality. This letter is a warm, gracious, personal appeal to Philemon to accept his runaway slave, Onesimus back into his home. Paul wrote to Philemon not as a lone individual, but as part of a Christian fellowship. Philemon was a wealthy member of the Christian community in the city of Colossae and hosted a house church in his residence (Philemon 2; Colossians 4:17).
In this book we do not know the details how Onesimus became a slave. And we all agree, slavery is evil. However, to be balanced and fair, there were those with great financial debt that would willingly sell themselves into servitude to obtain financial liberty. Further, there are historical texts that validate that a few believers during Paul’ day actually sold themselves into slavery not for financial freedom, but so that they could influence people daily and intimately towards spiritual freedom by faith in Christ. Regardless, of the circumstances surrounding his slavery, Onesimus ran away from it, somewhere along the way became a believer and was ministering to Paul during his confinement.
In the book, Paul appeals to Philemon on the basis of love. Paul argues love trumps all. If Paul would have used Justice as the basis of his argument, he would have encouraged Philemon…. (death to Onesimus.)
If Paul would have used Human Rights as the basis of his argument, he would have encouraged Philemon…. (This law is unjust and unconstitutional therefore Onesimus had cause not to obey it and Philemon is guilty of the crime of being a slave owner)
If Paul would have used Self Autonomy as the basis of his argument, he would have encouraged Philemon….(Punish Onesimus as you please. He’s your slave. You own him)
But Paul chose tender hearted mercy to espouse and encouraged Philemon because of love to forgive him and restore Onesimus back into right fellowship. Love covers all as in 1 Cor 13.
Paul reminds Philemon, he was not the only one who has been transformed. Onesiumus had also been transformed into a new creation in Christ. There are no limits on what Jesus Christ can do to morph all who believe in Him. Everyone is capable of experiencing complete transformation because of Jesus Christ.
Do you really believe that anyone can be transformed?
Has there ever been a time when you thought someone was unsavable, like Paul?
So today, me thinks, this blog is very long… 🙂 However I have determined to live as if each word was my last and each personal encounter will be as a Last Testament. Before I post, I do want to leave you with a quote.
I love the movie Titanic. In it there is a very poignant scene. Roses mother a somewhat embittered and conniving woman says to Jack Dawson the main character, “Do you find this rootless existence appealing?”. And, his response, well, it’s priceless. He says…
“Well, yes, ma’am, I do. I mean, got everything I need right here with me. Got air in my lungs and a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love wakin’ up in the morning not knowin’ what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night, I was sleepin’ under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people…I figure life’s a gift, and I don’t intend on wasting it. You never know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you…To make each day count. Rose then proposes a toast: “To making it count.”
say, “Here’s to making it count”