Tuesday, May 21, 2013

the way we end.

When I was in 5th grade I was the fastest girl in my class. 
This was determined by class races from one of the gym to the other. I always got to the other end of the gym first, making me "the fastest." 
So, I thought cross country would probably be my sport. 
I went to my first practice with high hopes of being the best cross country runner my grade school had ever seen. 
Our first day cross country practice was about 2 miles. The coach  said "ready, set, go," and I took off in a dead sprint. 
I was yards ahead of the rest of my teammates, and as I booked it, I glanced over my shoulder and smiled at all of them behind me, thinking, "This is cake. They're slow, I'm awesome."
My glory lasted all of 100 yards when I reached my sprinting max and couldn't breathe. 
I came to a stop as the rest of my team jogged past me, smiling, yelling things like, "This is cross country, Ab, not a 100-yard dash."
I lasted a total of 1 week in cross country, then quit. 

Ever heard of King Asa?
He was the King of Judah for 41 years and there are just 3 short chapters about him in the Bible. 
(2 Chronicles 14, 15, and 16)
Like me at my first cross country practice, King Asa started his reign out great. 
He brought his country back to serving the Creator God, got rid of all the idols in the land, and God blessed him. 
After 36 years of faithfully serving God, Asa's heart began to turn from God. 
Whether it was pride from having such a successful reign, or just believing some sort of lie about who God is, the king started to depend on himself instead of God. 
God wants us to know that He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, but sometimes we become our own Jehovah Jireh, and that's what Asa did. You can read 2 Chronicles 16 to find out the details of his bad decisions at the end of his reign. 
The bottom line is, King Asa didn't finish well. 

I wish he was alone in the Bible in the "Faithfully served God for awhile but ended poorly" category, but he's certainly not.
Noah, Lot, Gideon, Samson, Eli, and Solomon started the race running fast, confident that they could complete the miles ahead of them. However, they all failed in the loyalty department, got winded, and didn't finish like the champion that started.

And so it goes today. 
I wish I couldn't name off person after person who had once walked with God who is now not walking with God, 
but I can. 
Because I spend a lot of time helping young people know Jesus, I have watched many teenagers get excited about the companionship He offers, jump right into it with enthusiasm, but as soon as a temptation, problem, or doubting thought comes, they're done. 
They quit Jesus. 
By nature, we're quiters. 
In the U.S., a couple gets divorced every 13 seconds. 
Your marriage marriage hard? He not the same as he used to be? Your co-worker more appealing? Money make you fight?
Then quit. 

People quit marriages, and people quit Jesus. 
God knew this was going to happen, and it breaks His heart. 
He warns us over and over again in the Bible that it requires stick-to-itiveness to follow Him for a lifetime. 
In verses like Matthew 24:12, Jesus tells us that in the end, the love of many will grow cold. 
I refuse to be one of those many. 

I want to serve God today, and I want to serve Him on my last day. 
It takes endurance, training, and strength to end well. 
He isn't looking for a bunch of 100 yard sprinters, He's looking for marathon runners who will be in it for the long haul.