As the door on Acts is closing. . .
There will never be another Frank Sinatra - he was something else, wasn’t he?
I am married to an Italian, who like Frank, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, so we listen to a fair amount of Ol’ Blue Eyes in our house. Today I am gonna repurpose one of Frank’s most famous songs, but first. . .
Paul has just arrived in Italy at long last--not as he had likely envisioned, since he came as a guest of the Roman Empire, all expenses paid on his stormy, ship-wrecked journey, still shackled. But nonetheless, he is Paul undaunted. After just three days in town, he calls the Jewish leaders together and lets them know the circumstances through which he has come to Rome-- innocent but accused. He is forthright about what has come before and as always points the way to Christ. So much so, that some of the listeners come to faith in Jesus. Unabashedly, Paul reiterates that he has been called to the Gentiles. This never sits well, but he is straightforward nonetheless. Acts 28.15-31
The Acts curtain comes down with Paul living by himself for two years in a rented house in Rome, restricted but boldly preachinJesus. Did Paul hum a little “I did it my way” in his closing act? It is a famous song with a familiar winning tune and a large orchestral buildup. Imagine if it were tweaked slightly . . . why, it would be a great song for Paul to go out on!
A little revision is in order to honor our beloved Paul. Here we go: And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. My friends, I'll say it clear; I'll state my case of which I'm certain. I've lived a life that's full, I've travelled each and every highway. I've been in prison, stoned, beaten, shipwrecked three times... And more, much more than this, I did it God's way.
Regrets? I've had a few, But then again, too few to mention, though I did persecute all the believers in The Way when I was a righteous Pharisee. . . I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway, and more, much more than this, I did it God's way.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew, when I was my own attorney, facing the best my people and the Romans had to charge me though God was my co-counsel. . .
But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spit it out. I faced it all and I stood tall and did it God's way.
I've loved, I've laughed and cried, I've had my fill, my share of losing. But now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing well, maybe not amusing, but very fulfilling to know I gave my all to God. . . I will finish the race well. . .
To think I did all that, and may I say, not in a shy way . . . Oh no. Oh no, not me. I did it God's way.
A brief segue and comparison~ I love to read the Sunday New York Time obituaries (just got home delivery again here in North Carolina); they are beautifully written and often feature people of note in various fields. I learn a bit about unfamiliar arenas, people who made their mark in industries unfamiliar, or altruistically gave to make another’s life better. Not long ago, there was a full-page obit of a guy who came from a family of prestige and wealth, an artist, but a lost soul. Unfortunately, Dash was plagued by addiction issues, and so his life ended way too quickly, in his 20s. He holed up in a nice hotel and died of an overdose. His friends commented that his final song would surely be, "I Did it My Way." Yes, he did, and how tragic it was!
For what is a man? What has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. Oh, really? What is a man, if he's not God's? To say the things he truly feels, and believes to his very core... And, yes, the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows and did it God's way. Quite a finish.
How about you--will you go out singing, "I did it my way"? Or will you be able to say I did it God's way? Hmmm, something to think about every day.
With love and devotion,