23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful.
The late Ravi Zacharias once wrote, “Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”
Ravi has finished well. According to his daughter, “He turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done,” until he no longer had strength to speak. He reminds me of the apostle Paul. Paul also used his final days to point others to the goodness of the Lord, putting pen to parchment in order to encourage younger disciples to stay strong. His words still encourage us today.
But ministry wasn’t easy on Paul. In his many travels, he endured varied forms of beatings, hunger, thirst, and frequent danger, only to find himself deserted by friends at his defense following his final arrest in Rome. Yet rather than bitter brooding over this slight, his letters from prison urged others to stay the course—because although the race is hard, the end is worthwhile.
What compelled these two men to spend every possible moment sharing their hope in Christ and strengthening believers? I believe they felt the brevity of this life and the weight of eternity for those who did not yet know the Lord. To the end, they kept their eyes fixed on the Founder and Perfecter of their faith. The rest flowed naturally from His Spirit welling up within them.
I can’t speak for you, but I find it all too easy to fixate on self and circumstance. When I do, whether my days are filled with difficulties or comforts, the temporary things of this world loom large.
But when I set my mind on the goodness of my God and His offer of eternal life and joy in Christ, the jaw-dropping ceaselessness and permanence of eternity come into razor-keen focus. Suddenly my present entertainment or struggle seems trifling. Instead, my awe of God reminds me: people are dying without Jesus, and when they face the ultimate Judge, they will be truly alone. Others are drifting from the Truth and being led astray by false teaching, and they need discipling to keep them mindful of the Way.
With the King of kings as my focal point, I begin to view everything in terms of eternity. No matter what happens to my physical body, I have a hope beyond time.
But my friends—or even my enemies—may not. So I keep pressing on.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What occupies your thoughts more—your present circumstance or your eternal blessing in Christ?
- What are some small, daily habits you can form to make discipleship a natural part of your life?
- If you aren’t already passionate about discipling others in obedience to Christ, consider committing to prayer that the Lord will change your heart and focus to be in line with His command to make disciples.
- Memorize Deuteronomy 6:4-9 with your family or friends. Print or write it out and post it somewhere as a daily reminder for discipleship.
A fun way for your children to understand the meaning of Paul “staying the course” is to build them their own obstacle course outside or put together an indoor scavenger hunt with clues. Each “course” should have a prize at the end, something they can work for and focus on. When the course/hunt is done and fun has been had, you can tie in how Paul’s path was MUCH harder, a lot less fun, but his prize at the end was much greater than anything else we can hope for—spending eternity in Heaven!
Pray for our local partner ministry, Project Connect Nashville. Pray for those engaged with their courses, “Faith and Finances” and “Work Life.” These courses seek to redeem work, stewardship, and relationships through the impact of the gospel. Pray for the group leaders and the students.