I think most of us need goals to challenge us and keep us moving in a good direction. When you’re younger the goals may be to finish school, to get that job and that promotion, to find a spouse. As you age, the goals tend to change… to raising a family, buying a house, saving for retirement. In our relationship with the Lord, the goals are much more important as we set our sights on eternity. In older age, “Finishing Strong” is the goal and challenge that many of us focus on. “Coasting or drifting’ is not a good goal to have at any age, especially when you get older…. You may end up drifting off the edge of a cliff.
Joshua is one of my favorite heroes of the Bible and a model for “finishing strong”. If you remember, Joshua was a “key lieutenant” under Moses; he was faithful in his many duties and later led Israel into the promised land after the death of Moses. He was a man of great strength and courage in the face of many obstacles.
Joshua is a model for “finishing strong”. At the end of his life he spoke to the people of Israel….. laying out clearly and strongly the plan for the future. “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if you be unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15) “After these things, Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a hundred and ten years old.” (Joshua 24:29) Wow …… 110 and still going strong.
When you get older, your energy levels can decline …maybe due to health challenges or just aging. You can be tempted to feel that you’ve done your part and it’s time to relax … time to buy that condo in Bermuda, time to take that well deserved break. “ Dave, you’ve done enough, relax, put your feet up… smoke that cigar, look out the window, watch more “3 Stooges Reruns” ….
Well, I think it’s really the opposite; it’s time to step it up. When you move closer to the finish line, it’s time to sprint not jog or walk or crawl. Lift your head up, salvation is at hand. The finish line may still be miles ahead…but maybe it’s around the next bend. Regardless, let’s remember Joshua…”as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. What does God still have for us to accomplish?
Remember the words of St. John Henry Newman…. ” God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. – – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.” So, maybe part of that mission has not yet been completed…let’s not stop now. Let’s finish our mission. Let’s finish strong.
The last time I saw my friend Julien Rydler before his sudden death last week was at Eucharistic Adoration at Our Lady of the Mount. He was in the front of the chapel, kneeling before the Lord in prayer. What a wonderful image…. a man of God probably not knowing the finish line was so close, worshiping the Lord, keeping first things first. Julien was finishing strong. May each of us do the same.