on finishing well

I enjoyed a conversation with my pastor recently. He spoke about desiring to help others finish well, noting that many who are entering their senior years do not. Instead, they scour the furniture store for the most comfortable recliners so they can slowly nap away their golden years.

I do not want to be like that.

Yes, I have a recliner. It is rather comfortable, too.

Umm, yes, I do enjoy napping in it on those rare occasions when time allows.

But no, that fact does not define me or my future.

What do we mean by finishing well? Is it some reference to career accomplishments? Personal goals? Relationship milestones? Or are those things by-products of a deeper reality? Could it be that finishing well has less to do with our desires and goals (misdirected as they often are) and everything to do with God’s design for us?

Too often we pursue good things and shirk what is best. We pile on theological degrees while our spiritual lives wilt from lack of connection to God. We build dynamic churches while our families grieve our absence on account of our work for God. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and provide shelter for the homeless while at the same time harboring bitterness toward God and others for our own feelings of disillusionment. We become successful in business but secretly question life’s purpose.

Surely, if we are to finish well, we must come to terms with the point of it all, yes? Why struggle? Why labor? Why endure sleepless nights and deep hurts in the heart which are so much an unfortunate part of doing life in a broken world?

Life hurts. No amount of slumbers in the recliner will change that fact. Checking out of the rigors of life and its expectations will not salve the wounds we secretly nurse. Finishing well requires coming to terms with our brokenness and rising out of those ashes with hope and faith which inspires us to love and obey God. In that context alone there will come meaning. Fulfillment. Joy. Satisfaction. Whether we dwell in the margins or in a place of focus. Whether or not another human being is aware of our struggle. God is. He feels our pulse right now. He notices the contents of our thoughts. Your thoughts.

This isn’t an issue that confronts only seniors. It is true for people of all ages. People who are sick of the struggle. So, what’s it going to be for you? Will you shop for the perfect recliner? Or, will you ask God to help you finish well in the years you have remaining? He knows your sincerity. Are you, like Bilbo in Lord of the Rings, “quite ready to have another adventure?”

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