Monday, April 10, 2017


Although my life included a husband and four sons who were keen on watching football on TV, that was not my cup of tea. 

While the men in my family were in our family room shouting instructions at the players and referees, I took the opportunity to be elsewhere doing my own thing. That is, after amply satisfying the male appetites with hearty snacks and drinks.

I usually came back at intervals to check on the men folks and refill their survival food supplies and ask what the score was—as if I cared. Sorry to say, I usually didn't even know what teams were playing. If the enthusiasm was at unusually high pitch, I guessed that it might be the final quarter. Without really knowing what was happening on the field, sometimes I actually stayed to follow the action, especially if the score was close. Unexpected things can happen even at the last minute. The ball might be fumbled, a foul declared, a penalty called, an injury caused a time out, and the final score could be reversed. The length of the final quarter is anyone's guess. The game might go into overtime. 

Anything is possible in the final quarter—of a football game and also of a person's life.

It reminded me of my own final quarter of life when so many major events have been occuring in my personal life, my faith walk, my career, family relationships and ministry. Surprising events, unexpected ones, sad and joyful, and almost unbelievable ones. The truth is, no one ever knows when he or she is in the final quarter of life. When I was born, the normal life expectancy was said to be 63. A century earlier it was much sooner. Some of my grandparents died in their late thirties and early forties. My father died at 59. For them, their final quarter came incredibly early in life, while they were young. I am in my 92nd year and can more easily calculate approximately when my final quarter of life began. But I only know that in hindsight. There is no way to know in advance whether one is in the last quarter of life's game or already in overtime. No one can count on a lengthy final quarter or imagine what might happen at the last minute to change the trajectory of life and how it would end.

Many Christian leaders and ordinary Christians whom the Lord greatly used and blessed with longevity remained faithful through their final quarter. They are to be greatly admired and their spiritual fruit and reputation remains. Some others stumbled and fell toward the end of their lives and in some way disgraced themselves and lost their reputation before their game was finished. They didn't persevere in righteousness or endure through trials and suffering—or in some cases could not handle their material prosperity and life of ease.

A reminder of King David who was taking some early retirement time from his military leadership post and fell into temptation. In contrast to the aged apostle Paul who declared about his final quarter that he had “finished his course and kept the faith.” It isn't possible for any of us who have known and served the Lord to simply cruise without effort and continued vigilance through the final quarter and coast to the finish. Watchfulness is for a lifetime, all four quarters of life's game.

Out of curiosity, I went online to search for the life stories of some prominent Christian leaders of the past and current century whose successful ministries I admired. I was disheartened to read the final quarter report about some of them. It was not like the declaration of the apostle Paul and seemed to invalidate all their previous spiritual accomplishments. 

Is any of us guiltless enough to cast the first stone? “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). God promised that He has a crown reserved for faithfulness and perseverance. If we don't watch and pray, the final quarter can catch us by surprise with a fumbled ball, a foul declared, a penalty called, and we will find our reward subsequently diminished in Eternity. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). 

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