Ministry Resources

Finishing Well, Finishing Real

‘After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed… I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.’
– John 17:1-4, New International Version

Forever and always my Aunt LaDona will hold a place of honor in my heart. She and my mother were so much alike – the same passion for life, the same love of laughter, family, friends and God. In her suffering, she was real. She wrestled with the inequities of death and dying. “Don’t pray for God’s will,” she told my mom one day. “Pray that He will heal me!” Just before she breathed her last she quoted, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” (2 Timothy 4:7).

My mother died “real” too. More than once, as we lay together on her bed, holding hands, she cried, “I don’t want to leave my family.” She had moments when she questioned, “Why won’t God heal me?” One night she questioned, “Do you think heaven is really real?” Mom died resting securely in her faith and in the love of God and her family. Neither my Aunt LaDona nor my beloved mother reached pinnacles of fame in this life, but both left a legacy of faith that lives on to this day. They chose well.

I remember well a memorial service I attended with my mother. The woman we were remembering had been a part of my life since birth, my mom’s life since long before that. Even so, I didn’t know her well. Her funeral was one of the saddest I have ever attended.

The minister paused, and then said, “Now we come to a time in our service when we share memories of the beloved.” Bowing my head, I did a quick mental search.

For my mother’s sake I should say something but all I could think was, “Once, she said I had big feet.” That would never do. Evidently others were grappling too for something, anything, to say. She had consistently made poor choices in life. There was little to be said. We sat that way for what seemed an eternity before someone finally stood and spoke.

Later at the graveside, I thought about the service and experienced an epiphany of sorts. One day it would by my turn to die. There would be a memorial service. Friends and family would gather to say goodbye. What would they say about me? Mom’s friend is gone, but I am not. I determined that day to make a difference – to “step out of the box of rules and rehearsed ways of living and become real.”

Will you finish well? The choice is yours.

“God, just like everyone else around me my life has been a mix of good and bad, happy and sad, joy and sorrow. I have scars – evidence of the experiences of my life. Redeem them. Heal me then give me the wisdom and courage to change my world for You. Amen.”