Finishing the Course

Posted on October 14, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

It would be surprising to find a Southern Baptist who has not heard of Lottie Moon, a 19th century missionary to China for whom the annual mission offering is named. She served for more than 40 years, adopting an austere lifestyle, and died of starvation when she shared her meager rations with the Chinese during a time of famine. She often referred to her life verse, Acts 20:24, which reflected the compelling passion of her life–”But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God (ASV).”

It is sad to see people who seem to be directionless, floundering through life with no sense of purpose or destiny. What a difference to know that God has called one to a specific plan and purpose. Like this testimony of the Apostle Paul, we have all received a ministry and calling from our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever our vocation and wherever we live, we are to be witnesses of the grace of God. There is no beginning and ending timeframe of this calling.

Most church-related young people are discipled to understand that God has a plan and purpose for their lives. I diligently prayed that God would show me His will so I would know what I was supposed to do with my life. My wife, Bobbye, often tells of a similar searching as a teenager. Once a youth evangelist announced, “Young people, I can tell you Godʼs will for your life.” Leaning forward, Bobbye was eager to hear this word of prophecy and know what she was supposed to do; however, it was somewhat of a disappointment when he said, “Godʼs will is for you to be a witness for Him.”

That is the calling on each of our lives, but we need the passionate commitment of Paul and Lottie Moon. They did not consider anything else in life as worthwhile. All the things that could bring popularity, success, comfort and acclaim were meaningless compared with being faithful to what God called them to do. They could not be diverted by short- lived pleasures and the allure of the world. They found no attraction in personal ambitions. Their lives were poured out in complete abandonment to one purpose- faithful fulfillment of what Christ set before them to do.

I find the implications of this passage even more relevant at this time of my life. In the Bible there is obviously no concept of retirement from the task. Both Paul and Lottie were determined to run through the finish line. There may be a time when oneʼs vocation or employment comes to an end. Declining health may diminish oneʼs strength and level of activity. Ministry roles may change and even be terminated, but Godʼs calling does not cease. To bear witness to Godʼs grace and the salvation that is found in Christ Jesus is a calling that continues as long as God gives us breath and extends our days on the earth. May we be focused only on finishing the course God has set for each of us, and until that day be faithful in the ministry we have received from the Lord.

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