At 45, I am beginning to have thoughts of what it will take to finish strong. Sitting in the middle of life, I want to be able to approach retirement and grand-parenting with no regrets. How can I make the most of my choices now so I can finish strong? Someone once said, "One thing about getting old is that you can sing in the bathroom while brushing your teeth." I want to believe God has more for us to do! Let's look at Psalm 71 and see five important ways on how to finish strong.
Some say David penned Psalm 71 when he fled from his son Absalom. If this is the correct chronological context of this psalm, then David would have been about 62-years-old when he wrote this portion of scripture. And throughout the psalm, it becomes clear he is writing from the perspective of old age. For example, in verse 9, he says, "in my old age, don't set me aside." Then in verse 18, he says, "Now that I am old and gray do not abandon me, O God."
- Make your refuge in God – When life gets hard where do you go? Where do you find your comfort? I will admit, today I have 2 things I do when I get super stressed. I eat and I play football on XBOX. These two things allow me to get away from things. I am not saying either are the healthiest things to do, but that is what happens. Why don't we turn to scripture? Why don't we turn to prayer? Often, the reason we are stressed out is because we over-stretch our abilities and time. We become exhausted. Escapism is real. The problem is in what we choose to escape. Making our refuge in God will set the tone to finish strong!
- Make your requests to God – The Psalmist asks God to fill him with praise and with presence. We look around some days and find it hard to praise. From Oregon to Ferguson to Florida it is hard to praise God. The number of mass shootings this year alone is staggering. God is not dead. God is not unaware. God has not forgotten us. We have walked away. We have neglected. We have abandoned. For those whose faith remains we must balance the pressure with praise of the Most High. Ask God to fill you with praise. Ask God to fill you with His presence.
- Find your resolve in God – Choosing to have a mood which reflects God's presence is important. The attitude you have is the one you chose to have. Surrounding circumstances and people can affect your demeanor, but the attitude you reveal is your responsibility. Find your resolve in God to give you peace and joy, even in pain and tragedy. Resolve to live in God's peace. Resolve to act on what you know of God and what you have experienced through salvation. Nothing else can compare to God.
- Often reflect on God – Looking back on life with an eye for God's hand will lift your spirit and strengthens you for the finish line sprint. As I reflect on life, I see how God has worked to get me where I am with the abilities I have. In the midst of those difficulties you can't see clearly. The fog of frustration blinds you to the reality. The life God gave and the labor God gives you today sustains you through each moment. Reflect on the movements of God more than the moments you felt anger.
- Rejoice because of God – The Psalmist ends with rejoicing in God. He chooses to rejoice because he understands the restoration and redemption he found in God. Choosing to rejoice keeps our spiritual life above the fray. We still face pain. We still face pills and doctors. We still face grief. However, choosing to rejoice in what you can balances your life.
What choices are you making today to finish strong?Summers is the lead pastor at Coulter Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, TX. He and his wife, Dulcie, have two children: Samuel and Isabella. To read more from Summers, please visit his personal blog at http://intersect.us or follow him on Twitter @aaronwsummers.