Well, yes, as a metaphor the final stretch can move us in several directions. This week it has been primarily a consideration of the last month of the year, the thirty one days of December, 2020. Most of us have issues we should settle before we encounter the many unknowns of 2021. But, the idea of a final stretch lurks in darker corner themes most often considered morbid and perhaps ghoulish. There is the final stretch of life and those tasks that lead us to it. In many instances those times are hidden from us, the events and circumstances that take our lives unawares. Extended illness, disease, and advanced aging are certainly forecasts of this final stretch as well. That we can't always plot our life end doesn't, however, relieve us of the need for some preparation.
Scripture affirms the certainty of death. The anonymous author of Hebrews reminds us of this truth---"And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment..." (Hebrews 9:27, ESV). Death is our inevitable earthly end. The blessing of life is also depicted in the BIble as a brief sojourn---a mist, vapor, flower that withers, wind that passes, fleeting moments, shadow, and others. Covid-19 and many other elements of mondo bizarro have broadcast frequent life bulletins about the reality of death and the brevity of life. In my seventy-first year I've mourned the passing of many long-time friends, classmates, church and family members. The prayer "now I lay me down to sleep" has a new and ultimate meaning. The real question now is: am I prepared for that moment?
Several years ago Harriet and I became convicted about our preparations for death. Yes, we live every day in the anticipation of a full and rewarding life. But, one day I was convicted about a Bible truth that had always been real but had become more so as we faced advanced age. The Apostle Paul wrote it to Timothy---"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Timothy 5: 8, ESV). Sure, it was immediately understood in the context of providing the essentials of life to those in our family circle. Further prayer and thought also brought the challenge to provide direction, guidance, and preparation to the family in the event of our death. Several end of life matters confronted us. This information has been assembled into a large file, the location of which has been related to our daughter---
Affirming our spiritual well-being and hopes for eternity.
2. Preparation of an up-to-date last will and testament.
3. Expression of our final wishes and desires in a living will.
Harriet and I studied several of these fine documents and chose Fives Wishes as the one that seemed most compatible with our faith and basic approach to life. This form of will gives our selections regarding final services, burial preferences, and other matters of concern to us.
4. Gathering of insurance policies, retirement materials, homeowner information,
asset listings, and liability information.
5. Contact information for individuals to be notified and assist in the event of our
Hey, its the final stretch and we're all headed there. In my heart and mind the preparations, and many that I may have overlooked, are an element of spiritual wisdom. King David indicated that such wisdom is learned when we're aware of this final stretch. He wrote, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12, ESV).
Mondo bizarro? Yes, a really odd year. Final stretch? Yes, 28 days to finish what we started or bring to conclusion things of value. And, yes, final stretch in preparing for the day we move from this life to eternity.