A Good Man IS Hard to Find
Have you ever thought about what your dying words would be? Well, I have, and I asked that question to my Bible study gals as we were studying the faith of the patriarchs. In Hebrews 11:20-22 we see faith that finishes well. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph end their lives holding fast to the confession of their hope without wavering (10:23).
I don’t really think that I’m a dark person, but I have thought about what I would want to say if I knew I was dying. It is your last chance to witness to God in this world. Actually, who doesn’t think about God when they are witnessing or experiencing death? Arthur Pink believes that these are the most blissful moments in a believer’s life. If I have the opportunity for dying words, I want to say, “God is good.” Pretty simple, but it could be profound to someone witnessing your death. Even if I die the worst of deaths, I want to be able to witness to this glorious truth—God is good!
I thought about writing an article with a paragraph emphasizing each word separately, first emphasizing that it is God alone who is good, then the amazing truth that the one and only God is the definition of all good, and lastly how we know what goodness is because we can know him. It’s funny because it pleased God to have this be my theme for the week—his goodness & dying words.
Kim Shay wrote an excellent article posted the day after my Bible study titled, God is Good All the Time. I recommend it to you. While reading Kim’s article, I remembered Augustine’s whole section about God’s goodness in The City of God. He warned us that since all goodness comes from God, it is evil to try to seek anything good outside of him—it just doesn’t exist!
"Consequently he who inordinately loves the good which any nature possesses, even though he obtain it, himself becomes evil in the good, and wretched because depraved of a greater good" (388).
Kim discussed seeing goodness even within our trials. Often, our idea of good is to be out of the trial. But if God is the source of all good, we need to recognize and thank him for the good within the trial. Looking anywhere else for our good is evil.
But that wasn’t the end of my theme for the week. Last night I read Flannery O’Connor’s short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find. Here the themes of what is good and dying words converged. The imagery in the story is amazing, and I don’t want to give away all the details, but the grandma is a powerful character. A line in the beginning stood off the page. The family just packed into the car for vacation and instead of dressing for comfort on the ride, grandma is all decked out--"In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady" (The Complete Stories, 118). That takes making sure you have clean underwear on up a couple notches!
In grandma’s character we see that goodness is really status, wealth, and outward appearances. Her whole value-system is rocked when she has a gun to her head. In a way, O’Connor is putting a gun to all of our heads. Your dying words really do reveal your faith.
Grandma, who thought she was good, tries to convince a serial murderer that he’s got good within him too. As the dialogue progresses, grandma tries to get this Misfit to pray to Jesus. I’ve said too much already, if you’ve never read the story and would like to, but finally grandma realizes that she isn’t good. There is no good within herself. Everything she looked to for good was evil because it wasn't in Christ. In a moment of divine grace, grandma realizes that she is no different from the Misfit, “Why, you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (132). This actually was a good witness to the Misfit. Although he rejects God’s goodness for his own righteousness, he remarks, “She would have been a good woman…if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (133).
Have you ever thought about your dying words?
*This post was originally published on Oct. 5, 2012