The Winter Olympics ended just a couple of weeks ago. Many of us sat and watched events like the luge and curling, not having any idea of what was happening.
We watched for one main reason: We were pulling for the United States of America. The sport did not matter — we were rooting for the red, white and blue.
One sport I was disappointed with was hockey, both for the men and the women. The U.S. women’s team was leading, 2-0, in the gold-medal game with less than three minutes to go. But they gave up two goals in that time and the final goal in overtime, settling for the silver medal.
The news was even worse for the men’s team.
In their first four games, the Americans were undefeated, scoring 20 goals. But in the two games that decided who would receive medals, they failed to score a goal. They ended up in fourth place, no medal in hand. They failed to finish well.
I’ve thought about this idea of “finishing well” in recent years. You see, I am living in my sixth decade of life. There’s no pretty way to say this. When someone refers to me as middle aged, they are being kind and optimistic.
Here is where this thought leads me. I am 54 ½ years old and have been married for 34 years and a pastor for 31-plus of those years. I have not had the type of success in life or ministry that one writes books about. But I have been blessed. My college sweetheart and I still are plugging along — still in love, still going forward.
I have been blessed in serving churches all across the United States (Louisiana, Indiana, Michigan and Georgia), filled with people who love the Lord and who have expressed love to me. As I have ministered to them, they have ministered to me.
But in each of these areas of life — simply living, marriage and ministry — I am almost certainly “on the back nine” or “in the backstretch.” So the question arises: Will I finish well?
Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “I do not consider that I have made it … But one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on…” To what did he press on? He wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul had a goal in mind. He wanted to finish well. He wanted to do what God has called him to do for as long as he could. That is my desire as well. I can be an example to others along the way as I am faithful. I know God will remain faithful to me, for he always has been so.
I long to be faithful as well. I pray that I will finish well.