Tuesday, November 19, 2013


(From the final chapter "Launching from my Summit" an excerpt from Leona's book-in-progress "STILL MORE! FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT."
How I have lived after I became a follower of Christ determines whether God will welcome me to Himself with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord.” Or might I simply hear the words “Well! Done!” in the sense of relief that I have finally finished my life—but I may not have finished well. 

My welcome into God’s presence will not be based on my being a “good and perfect servant.” Since all have missed the mark of perfection, God has lovingly provided a way before I enter into heaven to become holy and pure enough to dwell there with Him for eternity. Then I will be perfect. Nor am I qualified by being good in the sense of depending on my own righteousness or good works. I cannot earn God’s commendation of “Well done!” in that way.

Nor is my welcome based on being a successful servant. How I define success may be far from how God defines it; His ways are higher than our ways. 

Nor will it be because I have been a well-known servant. The highest commendation may be given to a believer who has lived his or her life in relative but faithful and holy obscurity.

Nor will it be based on my being the always busy servant. Being busy and active even in so-called Christian service is not the same as being spiritually fruitful, which is what the Lord is after. God defines fruitfulness, and it may not be what we think it is.

“Good and faithful servant” is God’s expectation of how I should live my life on earth. I am good as I stand in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God looks at me as being “in Christ” and works with me as I “work out [not work for] my own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) God’s way is to transform me through the process of my lifetime into the image of His Son. God commends me on my faithfulness to the purpose for which He gave me life and how obediently I have walked in His ways. 

It is fairly easy to begin well—but to finish well is more important. My focus in this book has been on my hope of finishing my earthly life well. Is it depressing or morbid to talk about the end of life? It shouldn’t be, any more than discussing the beginning of life. What begins, naturally looks toward completion. 

We don't need to be elderly to consider this subject. People finish their lives at different ages and in different ways. Illness, accident, acts of war, hereditary factors, or natural catastrophes cut life short for many who never attain to an advanced age. None of us is guaranteed open-end time to work on this matter of finishing well. I must live purposefully every single day as if it were my last and so be well on the way at all times in the process of finishing well.

Many Christians who begin well don’t finish well because they take detours along life’s journey. Some deviate drastically from God’s purposes for their lives, others drop out along the way, still others gradually slip back because the way is simply too difficult and they feel that the odds are against them. Is there any hope for such people to finish well?

In whatever stage of life or age we find ourselves, since we are still alive, we can do something about finishing well in the sight of God and man. Applying it personally, my goal should not simply be to finish somehow, to limp exhausted and in last place over the finish line of my life’s race, or to make it through life as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I can't count on God grading on the curve. 

I don't want to simply finish, but finish with a flourish! There is always hope. It is never too late. God is the God not only of the second chance, the third chance, or the hundredth chance. 

Biblical examples abound of some who were good beginners but poor finishers and others who were bad beginners but good finishers. King Saul began well and finished miserably. King David began well but in some respects finished with a considerably less than perfect score. King Jehoshaphat began well and finished poorly. His son began wickedly and finished admirably. Saint Paul began terribly and finished gloriously. Contemporary examples also illustrate both good beginnings and bad outcomes and vice versa. 

To finish well is the really big test! As I advance to my final years it is easy to let my guard down, to drift morally, to grow slack in my full obedience to the Lord. By the drift of my older years I am in danger of undoing all the good and positive reputation and witness for God of my earlier years. I pray that God will give me wisdom and an obedient heart so that I may not disgrace Him at life's end.

I titled my blog “The Rest of the Way.” Everyone has a rest of the way. It doesn't matter whether a person is barely starting out on his journey of life in his youth or nearing the finish line, if he is breathing he still has some rest of the way. In my senior years, whether I have only a month, a minute, or a decade left, I have the opportunity to spend my time, invest it, squander it, or passively watch it fly by. 

The last few minutes of a football game can change the final score. God expects us to build our lives to outlast the storm, to persevere and endure to our last breath, to be faithful unto death or until Christ returns—to finish well!

1 comment:

Donna Duffy said...

This certainly ministered to my heart today, Leona! Thank you.