C.S. Lewis wrote a small journal titled First Things. Lately I’ve been thinking about “last things.” In my NASB Bible at the end of First Peter, I had handwritten: “Bill’s last sermon at WGC, TH, IN – 7-27-08.”
However, that Sunday sermon was not Bill’s last message. Instead, it was a meditation for the unity service on Good Friday of 2017 at Free Life Community Church. Other pastors participated, and Bill’s message was last. He took more time than had been allotted, but from the comments of those in attendance they did not object. After the service, one World Gospel Church member expressed her appreciation for hearing Bill speak. I reminded her that Bill repeated himself several times. She said, “But we needed to hear that again.”
The pattern of repetition is an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease that has taken Bill’s memory captive. And it’s the reason we moved from our home on Highway 40 in Terre Haute to Indianapolis where we share a home with our daughter and her husband. We left Terre Haute mid-July 2017, and since then, Bill has no longer been able to preach and teach publicly.
Other last times would include when I saw my dad and mother before their deaths in 1983 and 2006. As Bill and I drove away from their apartment in Mobile, AL, I knew that would be the last time I’d see my daddy. We siblings had been there to plan our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Dad made it only a week past their 49th anniversary, on the same day our first grandchild was born.
For Mother, I had been visiting her in the assisted living facility, and for the first and last time I used my “power of attorney” as I told the medic to take her to the hospital. From there she was transferred to a critical care facility before she died a short while later. Mother was 90½, whereas Daddy died three months before his 74th birthday.
Other last times may be insignificant to some but important to me. I recall seeing my last client at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, my last time to drive on the Interstate, my last trip on an airplane, and my last visit with friends before they passed on into eternity. Through it all, God has been good to me.
For that last sermon Bill preached at World Gospel Church, he used as his text I Peter 5:5-10. The subject is about clothing oneself with humility. Peter stated, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” (v. 6). That’s a beautiful definition for humility, for what better place could we find ourselves than under God’s mighty hand as we experience our last times?