Monday, October 27, 2008

Finishing Strong

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

There I was. Twenty-two years old. At a turning point. I was about to graduate in Finance/Business Administration and was looking a career choice right square in the eyes. I have to admit, I was scared to death. It isn't easy trying to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life, is it? No matter where we are. No matter how old we are. It isn't an easy decision. It wasn't for me. At this point in my life, I was not exactly living the way I knew I should. Constant conviction was my steadfast spiritual condition. The last four years of my life had been a constant struggle between seeking out the life that I desired for myself and struggling to surrender my future to the Lord. Here is the pressure point--the two just don't mix. One has to give. Every time. We either reach the point of submission in which we echo Jesus' words, "Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:42b) or we continue to rely on our own abilities and strength and mosey through life the best way we know how.

It had always been easy to reflect back to see the things that God had done in my life--especially as a young teenager. It seemed so much easier to trust the Lord then. Accountability was present. Spiritual growth was encouraged. Godly examples were given and sought after. God was moving. But eight years and a couple of bad decisions later, I was struggling to surrender. My future was clinched tight in my hands and I was struggling to open my fingers and let go. I had allowed the things of this world to take my eyes off of that for which God had called me heavenward in Jesus Christ. For a period of time, what the world had to offer looked pretty good. But, the world can never keep its promises. Never. It can never truly satisfy. There is always the illusion of "more" and "better." There is always an emptiness to its promises.

So, once again, there I was. Lying on the bed having a "staring at the ceiling fan" experience. I couldn't sleep. In fact, I really wasn't having much success eating either. I knew this feeling. I knew this conviction. I had heard this voice before. God was calling. The Spirit was convicting. I had to decide. Even for a church-raised, bible-belt youngster, this decision wasn't easy. I could finish my life selfishly. Or, I could finish life strong. Finish serving instead of constantly being wrapped up in the desire to be served. Finish for eternity instead of finishing for the temporary. Finish for God's glory or finish for my own. Finish weak or finish strong. I thank God that He gave me the strength to finish the rest of my life for Him. I cannot take the credit for the decision. I never could have made the decision by my own strength. Control is such a funny illusion. It isn't easy to call its bluff. I did, though. I gave the control of my future to the Lord. I trusted Him and let go. It was liberating. The struggle was over.

In a way, we decide to do this each day. In a way, it isn't just a single, turning-point decision--it is a daily decision we all must make. Where are you today? Have you had a "ceiling fan" experience lately? If so, choose to trust in the Lord with all of your heart. If so, choose the promises of God rather than the promises of the world. John warns, "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:17)

Continue to seek the will of God for your life. It isn't too late. You haven't gone too far already. Don't believe that lie.

We all can finish strong.