“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
I have long admired the tenacious spirit of the Apostle Paul as he went about his God-given mission doing the work the Savior had given him to do. Right up to the day of his death the great saint kept the Master’s business before him, wanting to not quit until the race was done.
A recent New York Times article carried the remarks of Mona Simpson, the biological sister of Steve Jobs, now deceased founder of Apple. In her remarks, a eulogy for her brother, Simpson talked about the last days of Jobs’ life on earth after his long battle with cancer.
“Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.”
“On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.”
I’m not surprised at these comments. Steve Jobs was likely one of the most important and productive figures in modern history. His life’s work changed much of the way we live our lives in the 21st century. You don’t make that kind of impact without being focused, perhaps even driven, toward creative goals. Jobs didn’t just decide one day that he had done enough. His passion to create and to innovate persisted even during his life-and-death struggle with cancer.
I read about people like Steve Jobs and wonder, “Do we as Christ-followers have the same dogged spirit to finish the work our Lord has given us to do?” After all, we are not working for something that will end up in an electronics recycling bin someday. We have been given eternal business to do.
None other than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has called us to Himself and commissioned us for His work. Christ has made us His hands, His feet, and His lips. We walk with Him every day into a world lost in sin and in need of the Savior. We must never forget our mission. This work must consume us every day we live until we have no more days to live. As we do so we are storing up treasure in heaven that can never deteriorate or be lost.
As a pastor I have watched many people die. I have been amazed at how the spirit of a person remains strong even when the body can hardly take another breath. It’s not uncommon for people to muster the strength to speak of their life’s passion with their dying breath.
Mona Simpson shared how Jobs called her on the morning before his death and asked her to come to the hospital as soon as possible. She said, “His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.” Steve Jobs made it through the night, but Simpson recalls, “Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times… OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”
I have no idea what caused Steve Jobs to say what he did with his last words. I don’t know what he was thinking (or seeing). I do, however, know what the Apostle Paul was thinking and “seeing” as he pondered what awaited him beyond the suffering and labor for his Lord in this life:
“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Now that will make one really say, “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW!”