Last Sunday I finished off the series on The Sermon on the Mount that we've been doing at church. We reviewed what we'd been learning about character, influence, righteousness, disciplined discipleship, and relationships. The final part of course is all about the wise and foolish builders.
It strikes me that one of the reasons Jesus finishes with this illustration is that the gospel is all about choice. It's your choice whether to follow Jesus or not. So he says make a wise choice. But secondly, I think he is also making the point that you need to make a wise choice of foundation precisely because the storms of life will come. You will have days when the rain pours down and floods rise up against you. And on that day, you need to know you're on a sure foundation.
This got me thinking, and I asked myself a question and I asked the congregation the same question too. Why is it that too many Christians appear to start strong and finish weak? Why do they, do we start well and finish poorly?
I have an unwritten goal for my Christian life and that is to make my last day my most effective day for the sake of the kingdom. I want to finish well. I haven't defined what finishing well might look like, perhaps I don't need to. Perhaps that's best left to God who will, one day, welcome me into heaven. If I do need to define it, it won't be defined in terms of numbers or how well-known or influential I've become on some grand scale. I just know that finishing poorly is not on my agenda. I want to finish well, I want to finish strongly.
A few years ago my Dad passed away, and a couple of years before that my Mum died. Both of them were around 80 years of age. By my calculation that leaves me around 30 years if I reach the same age. Maybe I'll live longer, maybe not, only God knows that one. But 30 years is a long time to wait if it's going to be a poor finish. So I'm thinking 30 years is long enough for me to make a real contribution to the kingdom.
So, in the words of Isaiah, a favourite among the prophets, "Here I am Lord, send me."And maybe, my epitaph will be, "He finished well!" Or maybe not.