Famous Last Words

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Do last words have any special meaning?  Are they the last messages conveyed by a dying person left for instruction, wisdom, or legacy?  Are they just random nerve endings firing in our brain in a last-ditch effort to keep our body from dying which are uttered as words?  I suppose we’ll never know for sure.  However the subject is quite intriguing.  It is often said that a person’s last words can summarize what their life was all about, the essence of their personality represented in one final sentence.  Sometimes last words are viewed as a glimpse into the afterlife when the dying person is somehow able to see the eternal aspect of the soul and supposedly see heaven or hell.  Are any of these true?  We’ll never know until we experience death ourselves.

One instance of famous last words that I believe will become very famous are those of the recently departed Steve Jobs.  Jobs’ last word are very intriguing for a couple reasons.  Jobs’ sister Mona Simpson gave his eulogy at his funeral when she mentioned his last words.  He had his children, his wife, and his sister by his side when he died and gazing at each in turn, he then looked past them and remarked, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow”.  Now it is unclear in what tone of voice he uttered these words because it was read at his funeral and then published.  But the tone is what is so interesting.  The fact that he clearly was looking beyond his family and looking at something behind them that was not there leaves me to think that he might have had a revelation of something, or saw something for the first time.  What he saw must have either been beautiful or terrifying.  The tone of his voice would have indicated which emotion he was feeling but we are left to guess.

Was the late Apple CEO gazing at eternity?  What was it like?  Apart from the “Oh wow” we know of, we have no idea what was going on inside of his head at that instant before he fell into a coma.  There have been numerous stories of people glimpsing heaven or hell before death, and even dying and coming back describing what it is like.  The Bible tells us that we die and after that we experience the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  We’ve all been taught that after we die we go up to heaven where we give an account to God for our entire life.  Every deed we’ve done, thought we’ve thought, everything we’ve not done will questioned and then according to God’s justice we’ll be congratulated or sentenced.  While this is partly true, the way the Bible really teaches it is that God will read to us the deeds of our life from a book as we stand and listen.  It will be more like a court trial when the accused is read the charges against him by the judge.  God judges according to His holiness, which just means His “otherness” from us or His “set apartness” from us.  God’s holiness is so pure and is the embodiment to moral perfection.  He is everything we aren’t but should be.  His holiness incites in our souls a fear because we are so imperfect compared to Him.  Deep down we know that we should not be near to God because He and His holiness is so terrifying that we are afraid.

Could this be what Steve Jobs saw in the final moments of his life?  Did he see with unveiled eyes the holiness of God?  Was then his exclamation of “Oh wow” one of fear and terror as his human unholiness was revealed to him compared to God’s?  As Hebrews 10:31 states, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Sinners who fall into the hands of God have everything to fear because of the judgment approaching them.  The fire of hell is a stark reality that they will soon experience for eternity.  Constant torment as retribution for a lifetime of wickedness and rebellion against God is what they are about to be condemned to, with no way out I might add.  The sentence is final and the execution swift, the consequences, forever.  It is truly a frightful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But perhaps there was hope for Steve Jobs.  His biographer, Walter Isaacson, had wrote that Jobs had been thinking a lot more about God when he found out that he was terminal.  He told Isaccson that he wanted to believe in an afterlife and that he was about 50-50 on the concept.  Perhaps he had heard the Gospel and was contemplating it, or maybe even believed it.  Whether he did or not we’ll never know.  But that would have certainly changed how we interpret his last words.  For someone who dies in faith in Jesus, the judgment is not something to be feared, but something to rejoice in because they have been declared righteous and justified before God.  God’s holiness is not seen as a fearful indictment but a beautiful sight leading to praise and worship.  If that was the case with Steve Jobs, his “Oh wow” could have been an exclamation of beauty having finally been able to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.

But the rest of the story of Steve Jobs is unknown to us, at least this side of eternity.  The question is, what will your eternity look like?  Will it be infinite agony and torment in hell for the wickedness of your life?  Or will it be infinite joy with God in heaven for the faith of your life?  The time remains for you to affect the ending of your story.


True Beauty

Last night we learned of one of the most tragic and saddening deaths of perhaps this young century.  Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of Apple passed away from a several year long battle with pancreatic cancer.  Steve Jobs’ influence in the world of technology is one that simply cannot be regarded with anything else but praise.  Jobs took a fledgling desktop computer company called Apple in the early ’80’s trying to compete against giants such as Microsoft and IBM and turned it in to one of the world’s most valuable companies at the time of his death.  After being fired once from his post at Apple, Jobs is widely remembered as the Comeback Kid success story of the business world.  Under Jobs’ guidance and brilliance, Apple has created some of the most amazing computers and devices the world has ever seen, from Macintosh computers, iPods, Macbooks, to the revolutionary iPhone.  Apple products have long set the standard for industry change while also raising the bar aesthetically as well.  Steve Jobs will be missed by all those whose lives have been impacted by Apple in any way, shape, or form.  The world has lost a true visionary and genius.  My prayers go out to the Jobs family; may they find comfort and peace in their Creator in this time of intense grief and sorrow.

But this post is not about Steve Jobs.  This post is about Someone else.  That someone knows a thing or two about creating beautiful things and being a revolutionary and genius.  He also happens to be the creator of ALL things, including Steve Jobs.  He is the Sovereign Creator of the universe…God.  While all the things in this world may hold a unique beauty, they all declare something about the One who created them.  Humans for example are created in the image of God.  Our primary purpose in life is to model God with all the things we do with the gifts He has given us, our brains, our talents, our ability to think and reason, our creativeness, and our emotions.  All of those are gifts from God and were meant to be used to say something awesome about the One who endowed us with those gifts.

Our God’s beauty is on display all the time in nature and the beauty of the heavens.  Have you ever been stargazing on a clear night and been captivated by the sheer beauty of the cosmos?  It’s an amazing feeling because you are gazing at the beauty of God and his wisdom and power.  God is the source of all the beauty in this world and we, as His image-bearers have the responsibility, and the privilege, of giving Him praise as we behold it.  Martin Luther once said “All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance.”  While that is true I think in light of the truth of God’s beauty and wisdom, and power we should also say “All of a Christian’s life is one of praise!”  He alone is worth of all our praise.