One of the questions every Christian ought to wrestle with is: “Will I finish well?”
Life with God is very much a journey. You would like to know that everyone will eventually finish. However, many do not. Some started off with you and rounded the first curve but for whatever reason didn’t finish. What happened? Think long enough and you can probably come up with names.
Some emotionally checked out long ago. They are in the pew but that may be about it. They are here but not fully present. Consider these words from Charles Spurgeon:
You know what one cold-hearted man can do, if he gets at you on Sunday with a lump of ice, and seizes you with the information that Mrs. Smith and all her family are offended and their pew is vacant. You did not want to know of that lady’s protest just before entering the pulpit, and it does not help you. Or, even worse, after the service it can happen. What terrible blankets some professors (professing believers) are! Their remarks after a sermon are enough to stagger you . . . you have been pleading as for life and death and they have been calculating how many seconds the sermon occupied and grudging you the odd size minutes beyond the usual hour.
Will you and I finish well?
Consider why some people fail to finish well.
“I have had too many disappointments.” Sometimes a disappointment impacts your will to persevere.
Maybe you are dealing with a chronic illness. You wonder if you will ever be any better.
Perhaps you have a child who seems to learn everything the hard way. What bothers you the most is that you are not sure that she is learning. You have great anxiety about her total indifference to the Lord.
“I have experienced too much disappointment with churches.” The disappointment that you experience in the church impacts your ability to persevere. You see and experience what should not have happened. It is hard for you to be hopeful or encouraged. You find that you are surrounded with others who have shared this same experience. Your negative thoughts feed on one another, and it is an endless cycle.
Eugene Peterson, in his book Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians (p. 10) wrote the following:
Every time I move to a new community I find a church close by and join it – committing myself to worship and work with that company of God’s people. I’ve never been anything other than disappointed. Everyone turns out to be Biblical through and through: murmurers, complainers, the faceless, the inconstant, those plagued with doubt and riddled with sin, boring, moralizers, glamorous secularizers.
“I have failed way too much.” The problem of your own failure impacts your perseverance. Your own sin can contribute to this loss of vital optimism. You have made some poor personal choices. In moments of weakness and vulnerability, you did something you really regret.
In his book Mid-Course Correction: Reordering Your Private World for the Next Part of Your Journey, Gordon MacDonald refers to some people who have lost their “vital optimism” – the spirit possessed by a person who believes the best is yet to be. Reality can chip away at our lives and erode our dreams.
The truth is that God in Christ is greater than whatever obstacle might stand in our way.
1. Lean in to your your life. Don’t hold back.
2. Push forward. With God’s Spirit in you, the wind is at your back.
3. Take at least one step in the right direction. Quite often, we know what the next step ought to be, but we hesitate.
What has been particularly helpful to you in persevering? Is there anything you wished you had learned sooner?