"Father, 'INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT. ' " Luke 23:46
I have to admit I have always been fascinated by the study of the last words spoken by people just before they die. It is often inspiring, sometimes sad, and at times even a bit humorous. My top ten list includes a wide variety of patriots, preachers and personalities.
- "Are you guys ready? Let' roll." Todd Beamer, 9/11/2001
- "Now comes the mystery." Henry Ward Beecher, pastor, evangelist 3/8/1887
- ""I'm going to Heaven." Bo Didley
- "God take me." Dwight D. Eisenhower
- "Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub." Conrad Hilton
- "Texas, Margaret! Texas!" Sam Houston
- "This is it...this really is it." Michael Jackson
- "The best of all is God is with us." John Wesley
- "Strike the tent!" Robert E. Lee
- "Jesus I love you. Jesus I love you. " Mother Theresa 9/5/97
The last words spoken by a person can be extremely important. They often give us insight into the life of the person. At times their last breath is punctuated with words of tremendous significance.
When Jesus was on the cross, He called out to His Father and quoted this line from a beautiful passage of Scripture found in Psalm 31. The text is found within the context of a Psalm written by David that contains both complaint and praise. These few words are critical to understand what was going on in the life of Jesus moments before He died.
"In Thee, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed. In Thy righteousness deliver me. Incline Thine ear to me, rescue me quickly; be Thou to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For Thou art my rock and my fortress; for Thy name's sake Thou wilt lead me and guide me. Thou wilt pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me; for Thou art my strength. INTO THY HAND I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." Psalm 31:1-5
Jesus was calling out to God in prayer in the midst of His dilemma. His favorite word of God was Father. This intimacy in prayer was a huge part of the life of Jesus. He loved to spend time with His Father. The prayer life of Jesus encourages every prayer warrior to turn to God in crisis, but to be intimately involved, and consistently connected with God before, through, and after the crisis.
Although Jesus gasps out only a portion of the Psalm, He was more than familiar with this passage of Scripture. He had heard it the first time David sang it. The Psalmist called out for God to incline His ear to hear and to take quick action to deliver him from the net that had secretly been set to trap him. In the end, he released himself into God's hands to be ransomed from his enemies, and for the God of truth to set the record straight.
Jesus revealed a familiarity with one of my favorite pictures of the Father. When God is revealed as a loving parent who will incline His ear to hear the cry of a child, it warms my heart and gives me hope. This is not a picture of a distant monarch who has a benign interest in the welfare of His subjects. This is a clear indication that God is passionately interested in the needs of His children, and will reach down to them when they cannot reach up to Him.
Words like refuge, rescue, rock, strength, stronghold, save, fortress, lead, guide, pull are indication of the safety to be found in God's Presence, and the confidence that can be placed in Him to take action on behalf of those He loves.
As parents, Dana and I have known the joy and the responsibility of having two daughters being brought into our lives. When they were little they always wanted to know that they had our undivided attention when they were talking to us. I can remember more than once the constant call, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" If I did not look their way, they would climb up in my lap and place their little hands on my cheeks and turn my face to look directly into their eyes. It was not enough that I could hear their voices, they wanted to make sure that I had inclined my head or looked their way when they called my name. When they were injured, it was not enough for me to observe and acknowledge their pain. They wanted to be held in my arms and comforted until the pain went away and the tears were dry. The warrior poet, David sensed this need too. Jesus called out to God to find a similar affirmation.
During this Easter season and tumultuous time in the life of our nation, it is good for every prayer warrior to be reminded that we have a Father who is aware of our condition and inclines His ear to hear the cry of His children. He remains the rock, the refuge, and the rescuer. Jesus has been elevated from the cross to the seat at the right hand of the Father. From that close proximity to the Father, He interecedes on behalf of the children of God. Prayer warriors who are overwhelmed by the challenges and concerns of these days can take confidence in knowing that the Father still inclines His ear to hear. Their requests are delivered by the Son and interpreted by the Spirit to bring about the result that will bring the greatest honor and glory to God.
God may be about His greatest work when it looks like things are at their worst. Anything that brings us to the end of our false hope in ourselves and creates a fresh dependency upon God for deliverance is a blessing in disguise. Government power and economic securithy are no substitute for or barrier against what God can do. God's greatest blessings are sometimes delivered in very strange and frightening packages. It takes people who will talk less and pray more to discover what God is up to in their lives. Prayer warriors allow God to turn their complaints into praise and trust Him to do something only He can get credit for.
Talking inflates the problem like a balloon filled with hot air and blocks the vision of the one doing all the blowing. Praying allows the prayer warrior to let go of the problem in order to get hold of God. The problem deflates and if it remains, it is at least a limp representation of what it once was. Prayer gets rid of the thing that is blocking the view of Jesus intereceding on behalf of the person who released their intimidating problem into His capable hands. Remember, He has experience taking the worst thing that the world can dish out and letting God bring about His best in the middle of it. To get a better picture of what God is doing in your life and in your country...TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!