Yesterday one of my friends on facebook saw some of our pictures with the brethren in Costa Rica and shared this post.
“And this is how I want to spend my ‘retirement.’ Y’all are sprinting to the finish line!! I love it.”
I chuckled. Then I thought “sprinting toward the finish line” means I’m nearing the end of the race. So I responded, “I hadn’t thought about it exactly like that. Maybe you could say we’re starting the last lap.”
Another friend chimed in: “No you are not!! Bite your tongue!! They’ll be no talk about last laps! You have ‘miles to go before you sleep’!!!!!”
It was all good-natured. But it was somewhat ironic to me because Sunday morning I preached about “Pressing Toward The Prize” from Philippians 3:13-14.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
I encouraged the brethren to approach their Christian life like the race Paul depicted in this passage. To give it their all. To keep their eyes on the goal. To pursue the prize. To reach forward. To earnestly endeavor to obtain it with all their might.
Being a Christian requires effort. Takes work. Demands focus. And calls for us to give our very best in every phase of our lives.
When Paul wrote this he was an aged man. He was in Roman prison. His life hung in the balance. But he was not quitting. Slowing down. Or sitting there worrying about the future, or basking in the accomplishments of the past. He was doing what he could. Sharing the Word. Writing letters of encouragement. And standing for the Truth.
Am I “sprinting toward the finish line”? Am I on “the last lap”? Are there many more laps to go? Who knows? Somehow we don’t like to think we’re nearing the end. But the Bible reminds us of this reality.
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90:10,12)
I’m 70 years old. Next week I have another birthday. Unless I live to be the oldest man in modern history, I’ve lived way more of my life, than I have left.
None of us know what the length of our life will be. My Dad passed away at 75. Mom was 84. My brother was only 23. I know preachers still going strong well into their 80’s. Some have still been useful and effective in various ways into their 90’s.
However, the fact is that all of us should be like Paul. Know why we’re running the race. Who we’re serving. Why we’re here. And use the opportunities we’re afforded to glorify God and serve others.
And so if the Lord’s willing for this old wicked world to last a little longer and for me live, next Sunday I’ll preach again in Costa Rica. The next Sunday in South Carolina. The Following in North Carolina. Then it’s on to preaching appointments in Tennessee. A month with the church in Madrid, Iowa. And then the summer sharing the Word in Ontario, Canada.
So, am I’m “sprinting toward the finish line”? Is it the “last lap”? Are there “miles to go before (I) sleep”? I don’t know.
I just know that I need to press toward the goal. And the let Lord decide how long that will be.
I recommend that approach to you too.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman