When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 (NRSV)
These were Jesus’ final words from the cross before He died. Their meaning comes from the fact that Jesus was very much concerned from the beginning of His ministry that He be able to accomplish His entire mission before dying. Each one of us is asked by Jesus to take up our own cross and follow Him. Each one of us is asked to be faithful until our own “dying breath.”
Life seemed to have come to an end for me toward the beginning of February, 1971. I had been hospitalized the first time for depression almost two years prior to this time. I had not been able to shake the insecurity that followed that first “nervous breakdown.” I had just returned home from New York City where, like I had done in Brazil, and this time more literally, I had spent everything I had. My mother had mailed me the money to get back up to Wilmore, Kentucky. I was so depressed that I went to bed for three weeks. I spent my time sleeping during the day and at night, rereading my childhood books, trying to recapture what good memories there were in those days. I was certain that I was headed for hell and I would lie in bed imagining what eternity would be like in that place. I wanted to die, but knew that I was not ready to do so. I wasn’t willing to go to hell.
I do not know what happened to allow me to turn my life around, but at the end of those three weeks, I did. I heard no audible voice. I saw no vision. I just knew what I had to do. I had no other choice. It was about seven o’clock on the evening of February 9, 1971. I went downstairs to my mother’s room and stood at the foot of her bed. I told her that from that moment on I would follow Jesus. I would not give up until my dying breath.
Things have not been the same since that moment. I’m still mentally ill. I’ve made some very poor choices at times since then, choices which have set me back years in my recovery. But I had found a direction and I have kept going in it until this day. And I intend to keep going Jesus’ way until my dying breath.
You may pray a prayer like mine: “Dear Jesus, thank You for speaking to me on February 9, 1971 with Your still, small voice. I am glad that I heard You and that I responded to Your call. I have lifted my cross and am following in Your footsteps until my dying breath. Amen.”