Past, Present, and Future

Read Acts 20:17-38.

Paul was leaving, and this was his farewell. Yet this time it was a final goodbye, for Paul would never be with these people again. "And they all wept and embraced Paul and kissed him, sorrowing most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they should see his face no more." (vv. 37-38)

We too are facing a final farewell. It is not easy. Like those people who saw Paul off, we weep and embrace and sorrow. Saying goodbye involves both the one who is leaving and those who are remaining in this life, and it is important that we note how Paul says his farewell.

He recounts his past experiences with and among his friends. (vv. 18-24) He affirms his present relationship with them. (vv. 25-28) He looks to the future as they continue on without him. (vv. 29-30) He asks that they remember him, commends them to God, and hopes that they have learned from him. (vv. 31-35) In effect, Paul reviews his life and relations with his friends, settles his `unfinished business' with them, and hopes for their good future in which he is still somehow a part.

Death usually catches us unawares and unprepared. So what can we do if we do have time to 'get ready' to die? We can learn from Paul. We need to say our goodbyes. We need to recollect our past. We need to be reconciled to our family and friends. We need to look ahead. Too many people have died without saying farewell. A person can gain much peace by letting family and friends know of his or her love and concern for them. He/she can also leave to them the peace which comes from the hearing and knowing of that love. Now is the time to declare that love!

Then, like Paul and his friends (v. 36), pray with them the following prayer.

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Lord, we look back over our lives, and we thank you for all the mercy and goodness you have shown us. But now, as we get ready to leave this life, help us to be reconciled to one another. Grant to the one who must leave the peace of knowing that life has meaning, and that he/she has given meaning in life to others. Grant to those who remain behind the peace and comfort of having been a part of this person's life in a way that death cannot destroy. Let your love, Lord, and our love be known. Help us to say goodbye and to be reconciled with family and friends and you. Amen.

Introduction Beginnings and Endings Why me, God? Lord, if you had been here...
Past, Present, and Future The Warfare Is Ended The Cross Now and for Evermore

1998 Mark Vitalis Hoffman - CrossMarks Christian Resources -