The Second Half
There are 2,300 people mentioned in the Bible and 100 are prominent figures. Of those 100, only a third finished well. Regarding the two-thirds that failed to finish well, most of them faltered in the second half of life.
When I look at many people older than me, I see the same trend with many struggling physically, mentally, and spiritually. Many seem to have given up on aging gracefully and are just surviving, waiting for their last day to arrive. Many, unfortunately, have even given up on any kind of service to God, though they served him fervently for much, if not all, of their younger years. “Let the younger ones do the work now,” they say. They are, at the moment, failing to finish well in the second half of life.
For much of my life, I dreaded growing older because I just didn’t see any older person who aged gracefully. All I saw were people getting more miserable with each passing day, and I knew I wanted no part of getting older if that’s what it was like.
Thankfully, my view of getting older changed in recent years as it is now being shaped by a few individuals who are aging gracefully. They serve God with increasing fervency. They possess joy, wisdom, and peace that seems to come from a lifelong process of sanctification and an increasing intimacy with God that becomes immediately obvious in their presence. They still have struggles, but they never lose their focus on Christ. Their faith shines even in the toughest of times. That is what I want.
There is that third, too, of people I don’t personally know who also serve as examples of how to finish well. I’m thankful for their example too. Combine the examples of people I know with those I read about, and I’m believing that I too can finish well.
How to Finish Well
When I run in organized races, people I don’t even know cheer me on. Other runners cheer me on, too. I also find myself encouraged by the others who finish the race and then go back down the course to cheer on other runners. And even though I know none of these people, I’m encouraged just to be told, “Keep going! Don’t quit. You’re almost there.”
The race of my faith life is also cheered on by people I don’t know, those who have gone before me and finished well. It’s encouraged by those running the race with me, though a bit ahead. My running is fueled by the words of the Bible acknowledging that the race is difficult but that finishing well is more than possible.
- Fight the good fight. Keep the faith. Cross the finish line. (2 Timothy 4:7)
- Complete the task Jesus gives you to do. (Acts 20:24)
- Discipline yourself & make sure what you teach matches how you live all the way to the finish line. (1 Corinthians 9:24)
- Endure to the end. (Hebrews 12:1)
- Stay qualified through the end. (Colossians 1:10-14; 1 Corinthians 9:24)
- Let Christ complete His work in you. (Philippians 1:6)
- Stay confident. (Hebrews 10:35)
- Live forward, not backward. (Philippians 3:12-16)
These verses tell me: “Keep going. Don’t quit. You’re almost there.” They, along with the stories of the third who did finish well and those running just ahead of me today, encourage and cheer me on daily. They fuel my determination to finish well and to refuse to join the ranks of those who, in the second half of life wax and wane into average at best and flat-out failure at worst.