“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16
Arnold is a classic example of the truth of this statement which Jesus repeated several times throughout His teaching in the red letters of the gospels (see yesterday’s Catch, “The Desecularization of Arnold”). Arnold knows what it is to be both first and last, and believe me, knowing what he knows now, he would choose last every time.
Arnold lies unable to rise in a house that is a testament to being first for most of his life. He lives in a beautiful home on the beach. Outside the windows of his bedroom which he can’t look out of since he can’t raise his head off the pillow, the mighty Pacific Ocean crashes 24/7. His house is graced by a most unusual collection of contemporary art that has been written up in the New York Times. He reached this first position by being paid handsomely for helping politicians and propositions reach first place in the state of California. As a result he has had many short term friends and some long term enemies. (Enemies have a way of remembering longer than friends.)
However now, with his successes behind him and not much left but his death looming in front, Arnold has become familiar with being last. In his current state, he is visited by no more that two or three friends. Arnold is largely alone, which has undoubtedly given him time to do a lot of thinking about what’s important in life, and about what might come next.
But it is from that last place in life that he has found his way into eternal life with Jesus. It was being last that got him first, not all those other firsts in his career. Being first may have landed him in a beautiful home, full of first class art, in a prime location, but it did not land him in heaven. Being last did that, and Arnold would tell you he’d be willing to trade all of his first place trophies for the opportunity to be even last in the kingdom of heaven.
Arnold would not trade his last place for anything because of what it has gotten him, for it has gotten him a place in the kingdom of heaven. And those friends that stop by? They all know about this, because it’s the first thing he tells them.