Southern philosopher and humorist Lewis Grizzard said, “Ever notice the first thing you see at an airport is a big sign that says ‘TERMINAL’? Have a nice flight.” There are many who fear air travel, and either refuse to fly, or when forced to fly, they must tranquilize themselves to prevent all-out panic. Experts say that flying is the safest way to travel, but when a plane crashes, there are few if any survivors.

“Terminal” is an interesting word. If you are in the academic world, a “terminal degree” is the pathway to a good job, and there are many fields where the lack of that master’s degree or doctorate guarantees you will never go very far. A terminal is very important in electrical connections, and a faulty terminal can mean disaster. A computer terminal is a needed fixture in libraries and many businesses. 

The first definition of terminal in the dictionary is: “of, at, relating to, or forming a limit, boundary, extremity, or end.” The definition that may most concern us is the one that says, “Causing, ending in, or approaching death: fatal.” That’s why Grizzard’s comment may hit close to home. “Terminal” should remind us that we all are … terminal.

As the writer of Hebrews discussed Christ’s sacrifice for us as our great High Priest and also the sacrificial Lamb, he asserts, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Regular appointments with the doctor may postpone that appointment with death, but we must realize that it is only a temporary postponement. We all are terminal, all set to die at some time.

When it comes to “flying through life,” we can let that knowledge that we all are terminal paralyze us with fear, or we can boldly proceed in the knowledge that this life is not all that there is. Jesus promised,  “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  I don’t claim to know all that this means. Even the disciples didn’t fully understand this. “Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” But I do know and trust the One who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:2-3, 5, 6).

Yes, we are terminal. But God is in control. Have a nice flight.