After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, 47-year-old Randy Pausch returned to Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a final lecture to colleagues, students, and friends. The professor of computer science thought that perhaps 150 people might show up. Instead the 400-seat auditorium was packed. For an hour, Randy opened his heart to them in a humorous, insightful, and moving farewell that was focused more on living than dying. Within weeks, the videotaped lecture had been seen by millions on the Internet and later became the seed of a bestselling book. Those facing death often have an unusually clear perspective on what is truly important in life.
The apostle Paul’s last farewell has inspired countless followers of Christ through the centuries. “The time of my departure is at hand,” wrote Paul. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:6-7). Paul’s instruction to Timothy spans the ages to challenge us as well. The letter begins and ends with God’s grace (1:2; 4:22) and in between is a celebration of the unceasing faithfulness of God.
A message from the dying can give purpose to the living. Paul’s triumphant finale, “To Him be glory forever and ever” (4:18), is a message we can all live by.
If we are ready to die, we are ready to live. (RBC)