Alexander the Great conquered Persia, but broke down and wept because his troops were too tired to push on to India.
Hugo Grotius, the father of international law, said at the end of his life: “I have accomplished nothing worthwhile in my life.”
John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States, wrote in his diary: “My life has been spent in vain and idle aspirations, and in ceaseless rejected prayers that something would be the result of my existence beneficial to my species.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and many other works, wrote out the epitaph for his gravestone: “Here lies one who meant well, who tried a little, and failed much.”
Cecil Rhodes opened up Africa and established an empire. But what were his dying words? “So little done, so much to do.”
At some point, it must occur to us as children of our heavenly Father, that only Jesus could truly say, “It is finished!” Only He could say: “I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do.”
You and I never quite get the bow tied on the package.
Paul understood this. As his third missionary journey draws to a close, he is heading toward Jerusalem. He is well aware of the persecution and heartaches that await him.
The 20th chapter of Acts records some touching farewells – to the believers in Greece, to the flock in Troas, and to the elders of Ephesus. “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God,” Paul tells the elders of Ephesus. But he warns these pastors that they have not yet reached the finish line: “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth…”
Long after Paul departs, there will still be work to do, battles to fight. None of us says the final farewell without leaving behind loose ends for others to tie up after us. But when our own journey draws to a close, we can confidently commit all of the loose ends of life into the same hands Paul did when he said: “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace…”