One of my earliest memories is seeing my baby brother and with wonder exclaiming, “Look at his little toes.” Now my little brother is 80 years old.
First things are precious. The first smile, the first word, the first step, the first day of school the first time we are able to tie our shoes, learning to read. Yes, there is a thrill with new actions and thoughts as they herald growth of the body and the spirit. There is an excitement of discovery of what might be.
During a teacher’s conference with our shy son’s teacher, she informed me that my son had hit a fellow kindergartner. Imagine her surprise at my response, “Wonderful! I’m so happy that my Paul stood up for himself.” Later, as a teacher, I understood her loss for words and the quick end to the conference.
Later comes the first love, the first date, the first year of marriage, and yet all the “firsts” come to an end.
During the Going-Away Festivities with our church family, we heard many ‘last words”. Words of love and caring that can only come from 38 year relationships . Next Sunday is the last worship time with our church family. “The Last Things” come with tears and wonder of a different sort. We tuck the cherished memories into our hearts, knowing that with some, the next time we see them is in Heaven.
The last picture, the last words, the last hug, remembering so many moments that are colored as forever. Faces blend together in love. Hands always outstretched in caring and unbridled generosity.
While sorting/packing papers I found a 3X5 card with notes that my dear husband wrote for a fellowship dinner years ago. His thoughts are so appropriate for this moment. His message is still our message today.
“Emily and I have four loving children, three lovely daughters-in-law and a handsome son-in-law. God has blessed them – and us – with twelve grandchildren – 12, two by adoption and ten by birth, plus a grandson-in-law and a granddaughter-in-law. We are blessed with seven great grandchildren as well. All are so precious to us. Their homes are far away, and we don’t get to see them often enough to spoil the grands and the great grands and enjoy our children and their spouses.
But God made us a part of His family though Jesus Christ, and you also are a part of His family. We are brothers and sisters and Jesus is our Elder Brother.
Emily and I are blessed by you and your families. We have joy in knowing you and your children. We share your pride as we watch them grow and become children of God through Jesus, because of the teaching and examples you give them, as well as others of the Church Family.
Some of our little ones are part of our prayers even before they are born. We rejoice with you and the Church Family as new babies are born into this world. We rejoice when new Babes in Christ are born into Jesus Christ in our family here even more.
As we are gathered together, I am reminded of the time when we will all be gathered at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb of God. What a great excitement there will be when we are in the presence of God and surrounded by our loved ones, our family and our Church Family, that have made our time on earth enjoyable. You have strengthened our faith with your love…”
Can you imagine the delight of our Heavenly Father as we take our first step into faith in Jesus Christ and our new spiritual rebirth? Or the celebration as we turn to our Lord with thanksgiving and praise? And how He rejoices as we serve one another with joy and His complete gladness when His Children trust Him and worship the One and Only in unity.
Those are all first things of faith. And His ecstasy is complete when He welcomes us home and we know His Presence, not on Earth, but in Heaven. What will be our last thoughts, our last words be in this life? Though we may be drowning in pain, we will walk with Him in the last moments on this earth and know His peace that passes understanding. The last things fill us with satisfaction and completeness in the Lord. May our last words be in praise and longing to be Home and may that be our spiritual legacy to those who follow…
• “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
• “For we live by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7
• “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4
• “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
• “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4