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May 5, 2012

THE JOY LADY: A few last words that should be taken to heart

TERRE HAUTE — My husband and I rarely argue. The more we live together, the more we agree with each other, and we have found that arguing just isn’t worth the effort. However, occasionally, I will irritate him or he will annoy me, and we launch ourselves into the middle of a tensely worded marital adjustment session. What keeps us flinging words at each other is, regardless of who is right, we both end up wanting the same thing: the last word.

Oh, don’t we love the last word? Ann Landers must have loved the last word. At a Washington, D.C., reception, she was approached by an overbearing senator. Without a formal introduction, the senator said, “So, you’re Ann Landers, are you? Say something funny.” So, she did. “So, you’re a senator, are you? Tell me a lie!” What a great last word!

President Calvin Coolidge was known to be a man of few words. One dinner guest, well aware of the president’s inclination to silence, told him, “Mr. President, I have made a bet that I can get more than two words out of you.” Coolidge’s even more clever reply was, “You lose.” One of the best last words ever!

In 1st Samuel 15, King Saul heard that the Lord was going to destroy a nation that had harmed the Israelites. God’s instructions to Saul were clear: Destroy everything — leave nothing. However, Saul and his army saved the best and fattest sheep and cattle and spared the life of the wicked King Agag.

This did not make the Lord happy! He grieved that he had made Saul king because Saul had not carried out his instructions. To make matters worse, Saul set out to make a monument in his own honor and tried to lie to Samuel about it. Samuel then asked Saul, “Why did you not obey the Lord? Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” I wonder what would have become of Saul if he had heeded those last words of Samuel, “To obey is better than sacrifice.”  But Saul did not listen to the last words of Samuel, and Saul’s reign and his life ended in disgrace.

Speaking of last words, Jesus’ last words to us are recorded in Acts 1:8. “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I wonder what will become of us if we do not heed those words, “You will be my witnesses.” In order to understand what being a witness is, we need to remember some other words of Jesus found in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are more disciples, if you love one another.”

Wow! Those are last words we should take to heart.

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, can be reached at


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