ending well

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4

Sometimes, in fact it seems often, one has to cut through the crap of life. Sorry about that, but there’s maybe some good precedent for that with Paul in Philippians 3:8. Just how are we going to end our life? I once joked that I was asking a pastor that, of course meaning how best to live out the rest of my days.

One thing we can be sure of: there will be difficulties and disappointments. I can easily get lost in distractions, given all the demands of life. But I think more and more of the inevitable departure to come. Ah, alliteration: I should have been a preacher. Ha.

But seriously: The realization that the end is closer than the beginning, that time seems to go much faster than it used to, one day piling up on and actually cascading into another, I realize that it won’t be that long and I’ll be in the Presence of the Lord. That is sobering, to say the least.

The question remains just what we’re going to do about it. Unfortunately too oftentimes we know of cases where people don’t end well. Older age, and old age certainly brings its challenges. I’ve known some notable exceptions to this rule, especially since I’ve gone to a nursing home many Sundays now for years and years. And I think there are the cases where there seems to be a bit of both: people struggling, yet realizing something of God’s forgiving, sustaining, overcoming grace in their lives. And really, Paul’s life surely involved struggle to the end, fighting the good fight.

I want to end well. Which means I want to be a true follower of Christ, cutting through the nonsense and failure of my own life, and not letting that stop me from going forward in that direction. I want to be committed to Christ by being committed to his body, the church. Right now we’ve left the new Anglican church plant to take our granddaughter to a church near where she lives, an evangelical megachurch which in some ways I like very much, but at the same time missing the liturgy and the climax of the service, the broken bread and the cup. And actually identifying more with the professed beliefs rooted in scripture and the Great Tradition, rather than those which are part of the relatively recent history of evangelicalism.

God knows all of that, and I know less than I do know. I certainly identify with evangelicals in many ways, and in fact am not afraid to be called an evangelical. I work at a leading, and I must say a faithful evangelical ministry, Our Daily Bread Ministries, and have lived in evangelical circles most all of my life. But the big thing, the main point is that we’re Christian, Christ-followers, in whatever tradition we are a part of.

All of this to say that through all the hurt, disappointment, disasters and difficulties life brings, along with the blessings, which are daily, for sure– I want to live the end of my life well, keeping short accounts, in other words making amends as in asking forgiveness when needed. Desiring what is really important, and chucking the rest. Agreeing to disagree with others on things which are not gospel, even if they are important. And going on in growing in the faith, hope and love that is in Jesus.

We will fail along the way, and temporarily be befuddled, losing what vision we have. But we learn through such times to go on, even to go on strong through faith. Keeping our full attention on God through Christ by the Spirit, and doing so together with others, while accepting that responsibility ourselves. Whatever our calling, part of that general as in for all believers, and part of it specific as to our own gift the Lord has given us, we want to be faithful. Especially in being a witness in how we live out the truth and love of the gospel of God in Jesus. I hope I truly end well, and if so, I will do so only be by God’s grace. Amen.

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