Long-distance runners know the importance of a strong finish. They know that many races are won or lost in the final steps. Uzziah made a splendid start when he became king at age 16. Through his faithfulness to God, he restored his nation to honor and glory. Then he became proud and believed that the rules no longer applied to him. Uzziah entered the temple to burn incense a privilege restricted to the priests. Even when confronted about his sin, he arrogantly refused to listen until leprosy broke out on his forehead. God had gotten his attention.
Uzziah stumbled before the finish line. He was disqualified. Instead of a record of great victories, he left his throne in disgrace. King Uzziah doesn’t stand alone in history. Many men and women who once walked humbly with God became proud and walk away from Him. They persisted in disobedience and refused to hear the voice of God or the rebuke of friends. The way they finish spoiled their race. Maybe, you have wandered off course in your journey with the Lord Jesus; or maybe you feel overwhelmed by the challenges of living for Christ especially during the times in which we are now living?
If so, you’re not alone my beloved because even the apostle Paul felt that way. In 2 Corinthians 1:8, he honestly admitted that the troubles he and Timothy endured in Asia had taxed them beyond measure, and they feared for their lives. However, Paul said they learned this lesson, “We should not trust in ourselves but in God” (v. 9). Once again in Philippians 3:12-14, Paul wrote honestly about his Christian walk, admitting that he hadn’t attained perfection, “I press toward the goal for the prize.” He identified this lifelong pilgrimage as “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
My beloved, there will be times when you’ll be discouraged in your Christian walk and will want to give up and throw in the towel. My brethren, you must never, never give up. What’s required is determined endurance, keeping at the task of obedience through the ebbs and flows, ups and downs, victories and losses in life? It is trying again, while knowing that God is working in you to accomplish His purposes (Philippians 1:6; 2:13). It is persistently pursuing God’s will for your life till you stand before Him and your work is done. God is wonderfully persistent also, because He will never give up on you!
Further thoughts: While writing this devotional I was reminded of the years I was in the U. S. Navy, especially when I was at sea. When you set sail on the high seas you need to know three important facts: your location, your destination, and your course. By referring to a map and using a compass, you can end up where you want to go. However, the hard part comes in determining where you are at any given moment; especially when foul weather (strong wind, high waves, and limited visibility) creates conditions that can sometimes confuse sailors.
So, how does a follower of Christ stay on course and avoid spiritual shipwreck? The apostle Paul wrote of the importance of holding on to “faith and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:19). We can do that by carefully reading and following the directions in God’s Eternal Word, attending Sunday school, being in church and in church and under the preaching of the God’s Word, depending on the Spirit’s leading, listening to the wise and sound counsel of concerned Christian friends and coming together on Sunday to fellowship with believers in Christ Jesus.
(1) So, how are you doing in your lifelong journey?
(2) Are you on course or in danger of shipwreck? My beloved, we can end our lifelong Christian journey well, even if we began late, started slow, or falter along the way.
So, wherever you are on your journey, purpose in your heart to live in faith and holiness, staying on course until you are safely home. The secret is to stay true to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer, until our very last breath.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and the prize that awaits you.