The Final Challenge

By Mark A. Taylor

Every sports fan knows the importance of ending well.

We remember games won in the ninth inning, come-from-behind victories cinched in overtime, runners prevailing only in the final lap. All the game was important, but victory was sure only in the final seconds.

Every gardener knows a successful harvest is the point of planting.

Neat rows of new sprouts are attractive, and beautiful blooms on healthy vegetable vines are encouraging. But if by summer’s end the plants dry up, rot away, or become the food of garden pests, what real good is a garden?

So it is with a life.

We’ve all seen Christian workers burn out in middle age after showing so much bright promise as young adults. We’ve all watched church members walk away from meaningful service and slip into self-interest as senior citizens.

What a tragedy, when so many potential victories are on the horizon. What a waste, when all the growth of a lifetime was really preparation for the harvest ahead.

This week we offer challenges and examples to keep running, keep playing the game, keep growing and producing fruit.

Young adult readers may realize it’s not too soon to plan for the last decades of life. How will the victories of the next year prepare you to win future spiritual battles you can’t even yet anticipate? And how will you tap the time and wisdom of older adults to encourage you in the race?

For middle and older adults, the challenge is obvious: You may have less energy these days, but you also have more experience. Along with “time, talent, and treasures,” how will you be a steward of all your life has taught you?

These articles remind Christian workers to keep prodding boomers and those older to take new risks and respond to the needs around them. The next generation of retirees will have more of every resource than we’ve ever seen before in the 60-plus crowd. What an opportunity for God and the church!

They will respond best to a strong example. And as in every kind of Christian service, the biggest challenge is personal. I can lead only where I’m willing to go myself. When I demonstrate a commitment to not slowing down on the last lap, I encourage others to keep pace with me.

And so, for every reader, this week’s issue reminds us of the ancient prayer in a beautiful hymn:

“Lord, let me never, ever

Outlive my love for Thee.”

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