TODAY’S READING: Acts 27–28
Rich Mullins wrote a song titled “Elijah” with these great lyrics: “Well, if they dressed me like a pauper or if they dined me like a prince, if they lay me with my fathers or if my ashes scatter on the wind, I don’t care. But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah, with a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire.” I love the imagery: going out in a blaze of fire. That’s what we see with Paul.
It is thought Paul died around 64 A.D. with the last stretch including two years of prison in Caesarea, shipwreck on Malta, and two years of house arrest in Rome. A physically worn-down Paul still had the raging fire missiologically. He was true to the end, living and standing for the same things he always had, not one spark of his desire for all people groups to be saved diminished. Paul arrived in Rome and after three days called leaders together to solemnly testify of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from the law and prophets, from morning to evening (Acts 28:17, 23). Some accepted his teaching and some rejected it, and Paul’s volcano erupted one more time: “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it” (v. 28)!
Isn’t it interesting the last recorded words of Jesus according to Luke are “repentance and remission of sins should be preached…to all nations” (Luke 24:47) and the last recorded words of Paul are “let it be known…that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it”? A Greek historian and physician, both professions that require attention to detail, were careful to point out the fire in the life and death of Jesus and Paul—the unwavering passion for the glory of God among every unreached people.
When I die, I want to go out like Jesus and Paul: I want my last thoughts and words to be about Jesus and His glory among all peoples. As I age, I want the passion in me that Christ be honored by every tongue to wax, not wane. As my body breaks down, I want my heart to gear up in prayer and hope that every people will be represented around the throne. As my mind slows, I want my spirit to quicken with the joyful anticipation that the salvation of some from every people is nearer now than when I first believed. When it comes time to take that last breath, grant it, Lord, that my final, temporal strength yet reflects Your unchanged passion, that one last time on earth I rattle out: “Jesus, You are worthy, for You have redeemed men to God from every tribe, tongue people and nation!”
And then, let my first heavenly breath sing on: “Yes, Lord Jesus! You are worthy!” Let my first sight be of Arabs, Africans, Asians, Latinos, Americans, Europeans, and all the peoples of earth worshiping You. On that day let all that is within me burn with a refined holy fire. Let my earthly match whimper out and then let Your eternal breath blow it into unending flame. Praise to the Lamb who was slain for all the peoples of the earth! When I come in, oh Lord, I want to come in like Elijah.