Several years ago, someone suggested I record the “last things” that happened in my children’s lives instead of the first things. The problem was I never knew when I would serve the last bottle, change the last diaper, or rock a baby to sleep for the last time. Those milestones passed quietly and unnoticed. When I realized certain things were over, I had no date to mark as a reminder.
But last week was different. We had the chance to celebrate one “last thing.” We marked this final milestone with a family trip. With no room to spare, we filled the car to overflowing and drove south. We escaped the cold days of winter to warm up on one last spring break.
We spent hours on the beach, ate fresh seafood, and made great memories. Sharing this break with friends and family was more meaningful because it was the last one.
After 20 years of being constrained by a school calendar, our years of following the schedule set in place by higher education authority are washing away with the changing tide.
New things are on the horizon as my children darken the door of a classroom for the last time. I am both saddened and relieved about their first steps toward their lives as adults in the real world. My baby birds learned to fly; winged flight will carry them to new shores.
There is always joy and celebration bursting forth when things happen for the first time. It’s important for us to celebrate things that happened for the last time as well.
The Bible teaches the importance of both. “In the beginning,” creation put an end to the “formless and empty earth and the darkness over the surface of the deep.” (Genesis 1:1-2)
Events that happen for the last time precede and enact events happening for the first time.
Scripture’s inclusion of Christ’s first moments on earth allows us to peek behind the curtain to see the end of His private life before becoming a public figure. Before His ministry began, called His first disciples, or performed His first miracle, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. ” (Luke 2:52) The time He spent in Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, and the desert was instrumental in preparing Him for the new path He would walk until His death.(Matt. 1-4).
Because of its importance for believers, the precious details of Christ’s first days shed a bright light on Christ’s last days.
During His last days, He shared the last supper with His disciples. This last meal preceded and prepared Him for the major events that followed: His last encounter with the religious leaders, His last prayer for believers, His last words on the cross, and the last breath He took on our behalf.
From the beginning, Jesus lived His earthly life fixated on the end.
Would our lives be different if we lived the same way?
We and our loved ones can live differently if we ask God to end harmful choices and begin healing. By shaking off the sand of walking along the wrong shore, we will experience an ease in our suffering and will be carried along the current of new and right things.
Here are the things we need to pray for our loved ones:
- For one last argument, in exchange for the first day of peace.
- For one last night away from home, in exchange for the security of sleeping where they belong.
- For one last alcoholic drink, in exchange for the first day of sobriety and control by the Spirit.
- For one last drug-induced high, in exchange for the first day of chemical independence.
- For one last arrest, in exchange for the first taste of freedom.
- For one last intimate encounter outside God’s design, in exchange for fulfillment through intimacy with Him.
- For one last day without loving Jesus, in exchange for belief in His perfect consuming love for them.
For ourselves, let’s pray:
- For one last doubtful thought in God’s power to accomplish what we desire.
- For one last day of trusting in our own strength instead of God’s.
- For one last time to walk in fear because God tells us not to.
- For one last attitude of ingratitude toward the generous gifts of God.
- For one last moment of believing Satan’s lies instead of God’s truth.
- For one last forgetting of God’s outrageous love for us and those we love.
In Scripture, and in life, the last things are necessary in order for the first things to begin.
Whether it’s a new life, career, family, business, or ministry, the former things must give way to the start of new things. Our loved ones must go through their “lasts” in order to begin their “firsts.” A new season always replaces an old one-winter becomes spring.
My last spring break trip edges me closer to the end of paying tuition bills, discussing class schedules, and involvement in student activities. It ushers in a new path leading to salaries, benefits and self-appointed vacation dates.
While we wait, let’s fix our eyes and thoughts on Christ who is the Alpha and Omega. In Him, we find endings that lead to great beginnings.
I can’t wait to celebrate what God will do for the very last time.
Waiting with you,