I once heard someone say that of the four hundred plus leaders mentioned in the Bible, only twenty percent finished well in their faith.
I am forty seven as I write this and I am closer to being on the “other side” of the hill. I wonder what my last decades and years are going to look like at times. I look back on those previous years with wonder and gratefulness. There have definitely been challenges and painful situations but I would say that overall, it has been an amazing journey with God and those I love.
You can argue the accuracy of the opening statement in bold but the majority of people in the bible eventually fell into their own desires and will. One who baffles me is Solomon. When your father is “a man after God’s own heart” and you have more wisdom, money and resources than anyone else in the world, you would think you would have a basis for a successful, vibrant relationship with God. In I King 11:4-8, it talks about how his wives turned him away from God. He can’t play the blame game – he blew it.
How do you and I finish strong? Here is a couple of thoughts:
- Stay Broken. We were born into sin – we were broken before we took our first breath. Accepting Christ and an ongoing relationship covers the price of our sin. Even so, recognizing our human brokenness keeps a reliance on Christ to walk out each day. In thinking we “have arrived,” we put the bullseye on ourselves that we can handle life’s challenges on our own.
- Stay in Communication. Being around people every week at church, it is always fun to see people who attend on Easter and Christmas. Since I stand at the stairs, they usually will recognize me and reaffirm our relationship. After chatting for a few moments, one will say, “I will call you.” We know that means the conversation is done and neither of us expect to have a phone conversation any time in the near future. Hard but simple question – When is the last time you said to God, “I will call you.”
- Stay in Relationship. One of the greatest tools of the enemy is for us to think we are “alone.” In every circumstance, good or bad, he loves to twist the situation from “God is with us” to “where is God?” Or, “I did this myself, I do not need God.” I have seen people that when they experience success, they don’t need God anymore. I once was told by an upcoming businessman, “I have a great wife, kids I love and a job that is doing extremely well beyond my expectations. I even know what you are going to say in the Bible, but “Why do I need God?” Be very careful of what you think you have done “all by yourself.” It can change very quickly.
- Stay in Awe. I will always have a Children’s Pastor’s blood flowing through me. My roles are so different now but I still want to look at things through the eyes of a child. When we lose the ability to be amazed or in awe of something, I believe we lose creativity, imagination and a sense of fun in life and with God. Stand on top of a mountain, wiggle your toes on a sandy seashore, hold a newborn baby, hug an older person, dance with a person in a wheel chair. The list is endless. God’s expression for us is the same way…always changing and keeping us in wonder.
- Stay in Love. My marriage to Kristin is going to be at twenty seven years on May 14th. I choose her every day over anyone else in this world. It isn’t even a question of whether it is a good day or a bad day. She is my love, my passion and everything I want in a wife. I choose her. That is how I approach God. I choose Him. No matter the circumstance, challenge, or victory – God is my God and I love him more than all the “little gods” that pop up in my life. I choose to stay in love with him even when it doesn’t make sense. Or, better yet, when it does make sense and I can easily take it for granted. Love is a choice…I choose Him.