I recently heard the story of a Godly leader I respected that fell into sexual immorality.
When I first heard the story I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think there was any way THIS guy would have fallen. He was a rock. He loved God. He taught God’s word.
But unfortunately I learned it was true. And the effects this event had on his wife and kids were devastating.
Sadly, this story doesn’t represent 1 person but several. I continue to hear about pastors, leaders, and once strong men of God who wavered in one way or another in the middle of their lives.
Some have fallen to sexual immorality, others to the pursuit of success, and some to pride. I believe these men genuinely started out loving God and their families. But, I also believe they underestimated the power of the slippery slope of sin.
What is humbling to me is although I believe I have grown tremendously in my walk with the Lord over the past 20 years, it seems it has become MORE difficult to stay the course as I mature in years. It seems there are more pressures, more temptations, and more opportunities to fall the older I get.
Hearing these recent stories of failure, combined with my own struggles, has ignited a passion in me to finish strong in my life…especially in my marriage. And although I don’t think I’m close to finishing, I know the decisions I make today will have a much bigger impact to how I finish than what I realize.
My Grandfather finished strong.
He passed away this past December at the age of 93 after having been married to the wife of his youth for 68 years. He had 3 sons that love Jesus and one of the results of them is my life. His strong finish has been and will continue to be an inspiration and encouragement to me, and if I can help it, many more people.
I want to share with you 4 things I learned from a few of my experiences with him that I hope will inspire and encourage all of us to finish strong:
- Put first things first – About 10 years ago while staying in my grandparents house, I remember getting up early one morning and overhearing them rustling around in the kitchen preparing their coffee and bran muffins. Then there was silence. A few seconds later, I heard a thunderous dutch voice start to read almost proudly, Psalm 84:1, “How lovely is your dwelling place, my soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord….Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere“. There they were, unaware of our listening ears, going through their obviously normal morning routine: drinking coffee, getting some bran, and reading God’s word together. At the beginning of the day, he put first things first…God and his Wife – Matthew 6:33.
- Look Up and Reach Out When The Times Get Tough– My Grandfather once explained to me how he was captured and put in a POW camp in Germany during WWII. He tried to escape several times only to be later caught and put through excruciating punishment as a result. During his painfully difficult time there, he was a part of a group of 4-6 men that got together daily for about 5-10 minutes to quietly and secretly praise the Lord by reading the Psalms and singing praise to Him. He explained that these 5-10 minutes focused on the Lord, in the context of that community of men, enabled him to make it through this agonizing season of his life. When his circumstances justified no hope, turning his eyes towards Jesus helped him to remember his eternal hope – Hebrews 12:1-3.
- Live with the end in mind – About 11 years ago I asked my Grandfather, “What is the one lesson in life that has impacted you more than any other?” Without hesitation, he looked me square in the face and said, “YOU.” His intensity in answering the question brought me chills in the moment, but I didn’t quite understand what he meant. He went on to explain, “You and Star’s faith, your marriage, kids, and lifestyle demonstrate God’s faithfulness in my pursuit of leaving a Godly legacy.” Towards the end of his life the most significant lesson he learned was the importance of leaving a godly legacy. He realized his life would have an impact on generations to come and he was committed to passing on a good one to his kids, his grand-kids, his great grand-kids, and on, and on – Deuteronomy 6:5-7
- Commit – In the months leading up to my grandfather’s death, he and my grandmother’s health continued to deteriorate, but at different levels. His sons were faced with the decision to split them up to appropriately care for them both. My Grandfather didn’t want anything to do with this separation. At the end of his life, and at the expense of he and his wife’s physical well being, he wanted to be next to his bride to fulfill the vow he gave 68 years earlier. His vow wasn’t just a statement he made at one moment in time, but it was a lifestyle that he lived until the day he died, “…until death do us part” – Mark 10:8-9.
You might have created a temporary buzz with how you started, or created an unfortunate murmur with a recent failure, but you will be FOREVER remembered for how you finish.
Make a commitment today to finish strong in your marriage by purposing to grow in one of the 4 ways above.