ESPN's most-watched documentary, The Last Dance, chronicles the rise of NBA superstar Michael Jordan and his role in one of the most notable sports dynasties of recent history. Nearly 7 million viewers per episode have tuned in to watch the exclusive footage and interviews with Jordan's family, team members, and fellow NBA athletes and coaches. The docuseries builds up to the Chicago Bulls' record-setting 1997-1998 season.
Michael Jordan ended his career well, with six NBA championships, five MVP awards, fourteen all-star selections, and ten scoring titles, among other accolades. Many call him the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), and it's not a stretch to state that he is one of the best to have ever touched a basketball. Just like Jordan, every Christian should have the goal of ending well. Perhaps no one in Scripture with the exception of Jesus demonstrated this better than Paul. Knowing his execution was imminent, he wrote to Timothy, "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:6-7).
A person's last words are revealing, and at the end of Paul's life, he revealed that he had no regrets. The phrase poured out indicates that Paul knew for certain that he was at the end of his life and that he was willingly sacrificing it for the Lord. He had already given up popularity, financial security, and scholastic position; he had endured deep sorrow and grave dangers and was imprisoned for his life's work advancing the gospel. Paul saw the chopping block as an altar where he would finally, willingly give his life over to the Lord.
The Greek word for departure is analys󠅍eōs, and it gives us a picturesque portrayal of how Paul viewed death, how a Christian leaves this world. Among its many metaphoric meanings, it signifies an unloosing from moorings, like ropes or an anchor, as if preparing to set sail. For the believer, death is not an end but a beginning, an arrival. We need to view death the way God views it, because what the Lord has in store for us is so beautiful and far better than anything we could imagine.