June 28, 2021

Acts 20:24b
“…My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

 

When our family was young we lived in a large community of closely-built townhouses, with many other young families. It was a pretty lively place – on warm evenings neighbors chatted outside and small children ran around everywhere.

One evening I stood outside and gazed around reflecting. We didn’t intend to live there too long – we hoped to buy a house in the coming years (and if God gave us another kid soon we’d need to buy a house!). But not all the families were thinking the same way. Some had clearly planted deep roots, building out big decks which obliterated their tiny backyards. Others had teenagers and were looking forward to having their unit to themselves once their children moved out. Next door to us was a single mom and daughter who seemed stable and surviving, and I could tell they weren’t planning on going anywhere.

And then, there was the old lady in the tiny unit at the end of the row. She was quiet and kind and I didn’t see her often, as she rarely ventured forth.

On this summer evening it suddenly struck me – wow, we are all at very different stages of life here! And the point that hit home the deepest was the difference between me and the old woman – here I was looking forward to our next exciting adventure, buying a house! Our family was small but growing, and life’s possibilities seemed wide open ahead of us. But then I thought of this neighbor of mine, and it hit me: She was at the end of her life. I was looking forward to our next stage, the first of hopefully many! But my neighbor was long past that. She didn’t have long-term things she was looking forward to, as far as I knew. She wasn’t waiting for a house to raise her family in – she was essentially waiting to, well, die.

That was the first time I ever seriously considered what it must be like to walk through the end stage of life.

In our passage, the apostle Paul is in a similar place. He’s lived a full and incredibly eventful life, and now he is in what seems to be his final chapter. His words echo perhaps a similar sort of reflection: Here is where I find myself! Here is where God has brought me. How have I lived? Have I achieved what I hoped to? What has God called me to? And what are my thoughts about all that?

As we begin our devotions this week, let’s take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves: Where am I in life? What stage has God brought me to? And what is the “race” which God has called me to run in this life?

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