In the Christian life, it’s not how you start that matters. It’s how you finish.
John Bisagno has been pastoring First Baptist of Houston for a number of years. When John was just about to finish college, he was having dinner over at his fiancee’s house one night. After supper, he was talking with his future father-in-law, Dr. Paul Beck, out on the porch. Dr. Beck had been in ministry for years and that was inevitably the subject toward which the conversation turned.
“John, as you get ready to enter the ministry, I want to give you some advice,” Dr. Beck told the younger man. “Stay true to Jesus! Make sure that you keep your heart close to Jesus every day. It’s a long way from here to where you’re going to go, and Satan’s in no hurry to get you.”
The older man continued. “It has been my observation that just one out of ten who start out in full time service for the Lord at twenty-one are still on track by the age of sixty-five. They’re shot down morally, they’re shot down with discouragement, they’re shot down with liberal theology, they get obsessed with making money…but for one reason or another nine out of ten fall out.”
The twenty-year-old Bisagno was shocked. “I just can’t believe that!” he said. “That’s impossible! That just can’t be true.”
Bisagno told how he went home, took one of those blank pages in the back of his Scofield Reference Bible and wrote down the names of twenty-four young men who were his peers and contemporaries. These were young men in their twenties who were sold out for Jesus Christ. They were trained for ministry and burning in their desire to be used by the Lord. These were the committed young preachers who would make an impact for the Lord in their generation.
Bisagno relates the following with a sigh: “I am now fifty-three years old. From time to time as the years have gone by, I’ve had to turn back to that page in my Bible and cross out a name. I wrote down those twenty-four names when I was just twenty years of age. Thirty-three years later, there are only three names remaining of the original twenty-four.”
What does it mean to finish strong? lt means that you will come to the end of your life with a strong and close relationship to Christ. It means that, unless God has taken your wife ahead of you, you will be married to the same woman that you are today. It means that you are a man who is in the Scriptures and living the Scriptures. It means that you are a man who has fought some battles for the kingdom and has the scars to prove it. To finish strong means that you are leaving your children and grandchildren the priceless heritage of a godly life.