Do we want to Finish Well? Are our eyes set on the prize of the High calling of our Savior? Do we want to accomplish His purposes for us? Are we seeking the things above at this moment? Paul says:
…but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself
will not be disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:27)
Paul understood his own propensity to falter and to sin. He calls himself the chief of all sinners in I Timothy 1. He desired and labored to follow the Lord so he wouldn’t be disqualified.
That seems to be a general theme at this stage of my life. I want to persevere. I want to keep my mind on eternity. I want stay strong and encourage others.
But I believe like me you are weary. I’m concerned about this virus, civil unrest, political unrest, lack of physical contact, and anger that can creep into our lives. I know God is working and there have been good things that have been accomplished. God will accomplish His purposes. But I don’t want to disappoint, to disregard, to disqualify myself as I enter the next 10,20,30 years of my life. I want to finish strong for the Lord, for my family, for all those that God has privileged me to influence for His sake.
I receive a letter, almost once a year, from a man to thank me for a talk I gave on the Holy Spirit more than 40 years ago. He expresses appreciation for the influence I had in his life. What a joy to hear from him each time he calls or sends a letter! Many times he includes a gift. He lifts my spirit.
Of course we know if you seek to do anything well, there are going to be hazards. Like the sand traps in Scotland; you don’t want to get in them. There are hazards, hurdles, and hardships in the Christian life. We seem to be in one of those hazards now and my buddies can tell you I have a hard time getting out of sand traps.
Winston Churchill in World War II was speaking to his cabinet about the possibility of surrender. He said, “I find it rather inspiring [to stand alone]. Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without results.”
In 1952 a woman named Florence Chadwick was going to be the first woman to swim the channel from Catalina Island to the California coast. It was a distance of 26 miles. Florence was no stranger to swimming long distances; she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. This July morning it was extremely foggy and the water was definitely cold. Sharks trailed her much of the way. Her family and coach followed along, cheering her on, and keeping sharks away. She swam for fifteen hours, but finally gave up because she couldn’t see the shore line. When they got her in the boat and went just a bit further, they saw that she had stopped just a half a mile short of the finish line. But that is not the end of Florence’s story. Two months later on a clear day, she became the first woman to swim that twenty-six mile channel. She set a new speed record as well.
What was the difference? The difference was that she could see the finish line. Do you see it? Paul did. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. II Timothy 4:7
Have we loved His appearing? Do we want to be strong and encourage others? Yes, we do. Therefore we need to be intentional. Keep the finish line in sight. Make sure that we are not isolated, have accountability, and stay in touch with each other. We need to be cheered and encouraged. Let’s not be disqualified, because failure or triumph affects us all.
We are on this journey together. My prayer for all of us comes from the same Pauline book. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:58.