In his book, Finishing Strong Steve Farrar tells of an observation John Bisagno’s father in law, Dr Paul Beck shared with him.
He said, “It has been my observation that just one out of ten who start out in full-time service for the Lord at twenty-one are still on track by the age of sixty-five. They’re shot down morally, they’re shot down with discouragement, they’re shot down with liberal theology, they get obsessed with making money…but for one reason or another, nine out of ten fall out.”
Of course, the young minister did not believe it. So, he made a list of 25 young ministers including himself to observe their life journeys and in another 35 years, he found that only 3 were still standing in the faith.
Now, as I read the story of Israel’s wisest and richest King Solomon, I see how he started well but had a lousy finish. This question crosses my heart: would I still be preaching purpose 30 years from now if Jesus tarries?
I believe, if the answer was solely for God to provide, He will certainly say Yes. Afterall, His divine power has given us all that we need for life and godliness. But what about my end of the bargain? Am I ready to stick it out with God no matter the circumstances that rise to prove my resolve? Am I ready to make the kind of choices that will keep me under God’s protection and power?
It would be foolish to think we can finish strong merely by our own determination and strength. By strength shall no man prevail. Strong men fall but weak men who find strength in Another always stand tall.
Would God help us finish strong if we continue to rebel against the still small Voice by which He leads us? I think not. Larry Libby remarked that the very gates of hell cannot make us stumble unless we choose to remove ourselves from God’s protection and power.
How then do we stay under God’s protection and power? By fixing our eyes on Jesus who is our perfect example of someone who finished strong. We must learn to do only what he does. We must study His lifestyle, understand and live by the principles that helped Him finish well. We must yield to God’s working on our inside as He conforms us to the image of His Son.
If you’re reading this and you know you may have walked away from your life assignment, the good news is God’s arms are open to receive you again. It is not too late to start all over. That is the power of God’s Grace.
It’s a long walk from here. I want to invite you to join me to make the choice to finish strong. I invite you to make or renew your resolution to serve God’s purpose in your generation. As we make the choice to fix our eyes on Jesus, I am confident that though the odds may be against us, by God’s grace, we shall finish well and strong.