Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

A Good Man IS Hard to Find

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Oct• 05•12

Have you ever thought about what your dying words would be? Well, I have, and I asked that question to my Bible study gals as we were studying the faith of the patriarchs. In Hebrews 11:20-22 we see faith that finishes well. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph end their lives holding fast to the confession of their hope without wavering (10:23).

I don’t really think that I’m a dark person, but I have thought about what I would want to say if I knew I was dying. It is your last chance to witness to God in this world. Actually, who doesn’t think about God when they are witnessing or experiencing death? Arthur Pink believes that these are the most blissful moments in a believer’s life. If I have the opportunity for dying words, I want to say,  “God is good.” Pretty simple, but it could be profound to someone witnessing your death. Even if I die the worst of deaths, I want to be able to witness to this glorious truth—God is good!

I thought about writing an article with a paragraph emphasizing each word separately, first emphasizing that it is God alone who is good, then the amazing truth that the one and only God is the definition of all good, and lastly how we know what goodness is because we can know him. It’s funny because it pleased God to have this be my theme for the week—his goodness & dying words.

Kim Shay wrote an excellent article posted the day after my Bible study titled, God is Good All the Time. I recommend it to you. While reading Kim’s article, I remembered Augustine’s whole section about God’s goodness in The City of God. He warned us that since all goodness comes from God, it is evil to try to seek anything good outside of him—it just doesn’t exist!

“Consequently he who inordinately loves the good which any nature possesses, even though he obtain it, himself becomes evil in the good, and wretched because depraved of a greater good” (388).

Kim discussed seeing goodness even within our trials. Often, our idea of good is to be out of the trial. But if God is the source of all good, we need to recognize and thank him for the good within the trial. Looking anywhere else for our good is evil.

But that wasn’t the end of my theme for the week. Last night I read Flannery O’Connor’s short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find. Here the themes of what is good and dying words converged. The imagery in the story is amazing, and I don’t want to give away all the details, but the grandma is a powerful character. A line in the beginning stood off the page. The family just packed into the car for vacation and instead of dressing for comfort on the ride, grandma is all decked out–”In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (The Complete Stories, 118). That takes making sure you have clean underwear on up a couple notches!

In grandma’s character we see that goodness is really status, wealth, and outward appearances. Her whole value-system is rocked when she has a gun to her head. In a way, O’Connor is putting a gun to all of our heads. Your dying words really do reveal your faith. Grandma, who thought she was good, tries to convince a serial murderer that he’s got good within him too. As the dialogue progresses, grandma tries to get this Misfit to pray to Jesus. I’ve said too much already, if you’ve never read the story and would like to, but finally grandma realizes that she isn’t good. There is no good within herself. Everything she looked to for good was evil because it wasn’t in Christ. In a moment of divine grace, grandma realizes that she is no different from the Misfit, “Why, you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (132). This actually was a good witness to the Misfit. Although he rejects God’s goodness for his own righteousness, he remarks, “She would have been a good woman…if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (133).

Have you ever thought about your dying words?

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Comments

  1. Evie says:

    Peace out.

  2. Tim says:

    My dying words? Well, I was going to go with “I wish I’d eaten more pizza”, but then I read this article.

    I remember reading the Flannery O’Connor story back in college. Grandma was a real piece of work in that story. Thanks for the insights on how the story relates to goodness and our many facades.

    Thanks too for pointing me to Kim’s Wednesday article. Left a comment there.

    Tim

  3. Miriam says:

    I am so glad that you were able to read some Flannery O’Connor! Thanks for picking out this main message and reminding me of it; sometimes it can be hard to think about the big picture when you read something as intense as O’Connor’s stories! I feel like I always need to fix my eyes more on heavenly treasure and therefore more on Christ! Thanks for pointing me there today!

  4. Helen Montgomery says:

    Thank goodness, I am going home. Never wanted to be here in the first place. I say this almost every day.

    Prefer to be at home, than here. Once said it out loud, just to myself, and was once overheard. The person commented that my shift ended soon. I smiled and explained that I meant home, heaven, heaven is my home. They looked agast. I also find this with so many that profess Christ, who just do not understand why I wish not to be here, and the fact that if it were not a sin to commit self-murder, I would tie a brick round my neck and throw myself in the deepest of deep lakes.

    I am one with the psamist, and with Paul, who desired to cast off this mortal coil, that it is far, far better to be with the Lord. The world does not know the all-consuming passion of Christians to return to Zion, with songs and joy upon their heads.

  5. Kim Shay says:

    Love that story by Flannery O’Connor.

    I don’t know what I’d say with my dying words. It’s hard to contemplate, because it’s a bittersweet thing. Do I say goodbye to those I leave behind, or am I so caught up with what is to come that I don’t? It’s a hard question. To be with Christ is far better, but as a human, locked inside my mortal body, I would struggle with the knowledge that my absence would cause grief for my family.

    Now when it comes to what I want my life to say about me after I’m gone… well, that would take such a long time!

  6. Luma says:

    One year I spent most of my summer reading Flannery O’Connor. God used her writing to change many things about me. Great post, Aimee!

What do you think?