The Finished Line

I promised my mother I wouldn’t leave her side. For 3 years she had been in a nursing home with numerous health problems that had been whittling away her body for decades. With the end of her suffering imminent, what she feared most was being left alone. What I feared most was not being there as she transitioned to her new eternal home. I slept in a recliner near her bed whenever allowed.

Despite the fact that she wasn’t ingesting food or fluids, mom lingered for days, not really conscious but occasionally calling out. I was glad I could hold her hand and remind her I was there.

I didn’t want to let her go. But my heart ached to see her like this—my once community- league-volleyball-champ mom, now so weak her limbs trembled. My Renaissance-woman mom who encouraged my own talents and believed I could do anything. She was slipping away from me, but time moved so slowly.

Other family members came, and staff would come in and visit with us. At one point more than 20 family members huddled in that little room, sitting on folding chairs around mom’s bed, singing out of hymnals borrowed from the nursing home chapel. My mother loved music, especially the enduring hymns. We couldn’t tell whether or not she knew what was going on, but we hoped the music would comfort her in ways we couldn’t.

A day or so later, a family member asked one of the nurses, “Why is she just hanging on like this?”

“Wel, I’m no theologian” he said. “But I’ve heard it said that some people may have things they need to deal with before they pass on. They may have to atone for some sin.”

My niece stiffened. “Oh, no! That’s not true,” she objected. “My grandma is a Christian, and the Bible says that Jesus paid it all.”

The apostle John, who stayed nearby during the tremendous suffering of Christ on the cross, heard his Master cry out, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

What was finished?

The author of Hebrews, after laying out the intricacies of God’s great eternal plan to deal with the sin of all humanity, writes this: “After he [Jesus] had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (1:3).

We all know the wonderful feeling of being able to sit down after finishing a huge, exhausting project. That’s what Jesus got to do after accomplishing his awesome work of paying the price for our sins against Holy God. He washed them all away with his precious lifeblood. Nothing remained to be done except for us to believe that it was finished.

Jesus crossed the “Finished” Line, giving his life to pay for our sins—now and forever—and then he sat down. What great good news!

My mom had nothing to atone for, yet not because she was sinless. Though she was a wonderful mother, I know she wasn’t perfect. But Mom had settled her eternal destiny about 70 years earlier. As a young teenager, she had placed her faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross to atone for all her sin—past, present, and future.

We don’t know why God allowed my mom to linger so long. But within hours of our conversation with that non-theologian nurse—in God’s always-perfect timing—both Mom and I found peace. I relaxed, knowing she had stepped into heaven, the place Jesus was preparing for her (John 14:1–3). Instantly, with her Savior by her side, she was not alone—and would never be alone again—because Jesus paid it all.

“Jesus Paid It All”

by Alvina M. Hall

I hear the Savior say,

“Thy strength indeed is small,

Child of weakness, watch and pray,

Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

Lord, now indeed I find

Thy pow’r and Thine alone,

Can change the leper’s spots

And melt the heart of stone.

For nothing good have I

Whereby Thy grace to claim;

I’ll wash my garments white

In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And when, before the throne,

I stand in Him complete,

“Jesus died my soul to save,”

My lips shall still repeat.

Joyce K. Ellis is an award-winning author who has published hundreds of articles in Christian publications. Her 18 published books include The 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman, Our Heart Psalms, and a picture book for children, The Fabulous World That God Made. She is a member of the Evangelical Press Association, which honored her in 2023 with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her husband, Steve, live in suburban Minneapolis, where they are members of Wooddale Church. They have 3 grown children, 7 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild.

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