One of the messages Nick and I listened to during our trip was on longevity in the faith. It was about finishing well. Staying loyal and alive to Jesus until the end. It’s something I've thought about often. I want to end my days well. I've seen so many people start off strong in the Lord, but sometime during their lives they fall greatly. Bill Johnson, the pastor who preached this sermon, looked at the history of the Old Testament kings for his backdrop. It made the message much more poignant for me because I've completed the same study, more than once. It’s kind of depressing when you study the Old Testament kings of Judah. There just aren't that many who do it right. Very few get the tag, “just like my servant David”. Of those who begin their reigns close to the Lord, many of them fall away during their lifetime.
I used to read their history with great incredulity. How could they do that? But the older I get, the easier it is for me to understand how this happens. Really, there are a couple of major thoroughfares which lead down that road and they tend to be based on how a person’s life goes. Those who experience success and accolades tend to become arrogant and those who have had pain and disappointments become disillusioned and bitter.
I've come to realize that it’s the reactions to what happens as we go through our lives that affect our thinking and lead us away from our relationship with the Lord. Since it’s been a hard couple of years for me, I more readily related to the disappointments than the accolades at this point. But either way, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I must, on a regular basis, process the events of my life with the Lord. I need to deal with both my victories and my disappointments. I can’t just “go on” and live with things being wrong inside. I can’t let underlying attitudes rot out my heart. I have to guard my heart.
Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
I want to deal with the issues of my life so that they don’t choke out my faith and keep me from finishing well. That’s what I've been working on lately!