The glory, folly of famous last words
During the battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Gen. John Sedgewick was rearranging his troops in anticipation of confronting the enemy. Eager Confederate soldiers took advantage of their maneuvers by firing occasional shots at Sedgewick's troops, causing them to duck for cover as the bullets whistled past them. In an attempt to instill courage in his men, General Sedgewick jeered them for hiding from the bullets, saying, "Stand fast men. They couldn't hit an elephant at this ..." That was all he said before a confederate bullet ripped into his body, fatally wounding him.
A similar experience was had by Capt. John Janness during the famous Box Wagon Battle in Wyoming. When encouraged by his fellow soldiers not to stand up to shoot his rifle, the soldier replied, "I know how to fight Indians!" It was the last statement he uttered on earth.
One's last words can either testify to a person's fame or folly.
Jesus' last words have become well known -- "It is finished!" The church has long interpreted these to mean everything God intended to take place in Jesus' life for the procurement of salvation had been satisfied. There was nothing left to do, except die.
What a testimony of a life well lived, a life completely consumed by the will of God. I think of all the words one could utter in the end, this testimony of a surrendered life, given and exhausted for God, is the greatest of all.
Will your last words testify of dedication or folly?
Pastor Mark Holmes is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church and has served the Darrow Road Wesleyan Church since 1997.