Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finishing Well by Karen Wingate

The world was saddened at the recent death of Whitney Huston, the great singer who thrilled our hearts with her rendition of "I Will Always Love You." 

Her cause of death - a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol - reminded me of other celebrities who enjoyed brilliant success or did much for the Kingdom of God, but their careers or lives ended on a sour note due to some poor personal choice. 

King Asa of Judah had that problem. Asa was a good king, according to 2 Chronicles 14 and 15. He removed altars and worship centers dedicated to foreign gods. He trusted God in his military campaigns. He deposed his grandmother as queen-mother because she set up pagan idols. 

Near the end of his life, however, Asa made a fatal decision. He made an alliance with a pagan king instead of trusting God for deliverance from his enemies. Worse yet, Asa knew better, for he had witnessed God's amazing power to deliver him from other enemies in the past (see 2 Chronicles 16). 

When confronted with his sin, Asa became so angry, he started to brutally oppress his people. And when he was struck with a disease in the final three years of his life, "even in his illness, he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians" (2 Chronicles 16:12). What a sad ending to a life that started so well! 

I don't want to be like that. I want to say with Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." I don't want to falter in my faith. I want to finish well.

I want to be like some I’ve known:
• Mary who, at age 85, took a homeless young man into her home
• Evelyn who still invited church people for Sunday lunch when she was 80
• Jim, 75, who wants to start a class for new converts
• Mervin, who coaxed the nursing home staff to repeat the Lord's Prayer with him each night before bedtime
• Grammy Jean, who prayed for families when her pain kept her awake. 

It isn't easy. As life hurls forward, decisions become more complicated and we have less energy. We struggle with the ever-present temptations to allow the harshness of life to harden rather than soften us and to justify a critical spirit in the name of blunt honesty. 

Paul's admonishment to "stand firm in the Lord and in His mighty power" (Eph 6:10) is true at any age. We can finish well by remembering what God has done for us, continuing to serve Him, and never, at any point, giving the devil a foothold to destroy what the Lord has carefully built throughout our lives. Way before we reach the autumn years, we need to decide to stay faithful to our God to the end of our life.

As a minister's wife, Karen has had the privilege of watching many saints who have finished well, go on to their glorious reward.

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