I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4.7
I don't wish to get maudlin over this but partings are rarely easy and yesterday the reality of my departure from Strath & Sleat hit me. It also set me thinking about how to handle the process. On a previous occasion I made the mistake of kidding myself that it would be kinder for everyone if I just slipped out the door: minimum fuss, no spilling of emotion. But it meant that I never said goodbye properly and I deprived everyone who may have wanted it of the opportunity to take stock of what we had shared, in preparation for moving on.
I read somewhere that it might be a good discipline to write one's own obituary and, in the light of how one wished to be remembered, get one's house in order so as to be ready when the time came. Now we are not considering anything so final as death on this occasion but, so much that happens in life is unpredictable, that it does make sense to give some thought to what is inevitable.
In his second letter to Timothy, St Paul insisted that he was ready for when his time should come. That boast was legitimised by his having lived a life of integrity - that is, according to what he believed. It was not a perfect life as we know. He was a bitter enemy of Jesus and his followers to begin with and he inflicted great suffering on the fledgling church. But when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he channeled his rage into a torrent of love and spent his remaining days in service to the object of that love: Jesus and the very people he had formerly persecuted.
It is never too late to do the right thing. The amazing thing about God's grace, confirmed in Jesus' parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20. 1-16), is that what counts is not how long we have been believers but that we become believers in response to the call of God when it comes. And that sets the tone for our lives and for our departures: responding to the call of God when it comes...