We used to have an open microphone for our Thanksgiving service where people would openly proclaim what they were thankful for. Once in a while, some folks would go on for a very long time telling story after story. This could make for a long service so, one year the presiding pastor made a pretty cool statement. He said (I paraphrase), “This time of sharing can be compared to flying a plane, it takes quite a bit of effort for you to get up out of your seat and ‘take off’, but then while you’re flying, I’d like for you to consider ahead of time how you’re going to land.”
If you were facing the end of your life today, do you know what your “final last words” would be? Have you considered how you’d like to “land”? Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. This is one of the many reasons I rise up early to read, pray and write. I want to condition my heart to have a proper response to life (and death).
As Jesus hung on the cross He had two men hanging there with Him. One cursed God and the other feared Him. They both knew how that day would end and their words portrayed what was in their hearts. Jesus rewarded the faithful man with a promise that his death would not be the end of the story. Jesus doesn’t lie. Carpe diem – seize the day.
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”