finish well

This summer has been a swell of nostalgia. Michael Keaton returned as “Batman,” Harrison Ford came back as “Indiana Jones,” and Tom Cruise was Ethan Hunt once more in Mission Impossible 7 (part 1). And Michael Keaton is going to be “Beetlejuice” again next year, along with Tom as Ethan again in MI 7 part 2. I don’t know if Harrison will come back or not, but all of this makes me think about the passage of time, reliving childhood youth, and what it means to grow old, to take “one more trip around the sun,” to see childhood heroes get grayer, and how to finish well.

King Solomon wasn’t a young man anymore. He got old, and he did what the Lord said NOT to do, “You shall not enter into marriage with foreign women, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” And that came true, “for when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done (1 Kings 11).” A life not finished well, a long and slow drifting in the wrong direction. The plane got off course slowly and subtly, gradually.

Ugh. The tragedy of not finishing well. The small and seemingly “insignificant” choices add up, and they’re not so insignificant, are they? Erik Raymond wrote, “Building a fulfilling life takes a million tiny decisions, but only one bad choice can wreck it.” The individual ingredients that make the cake, or the individual notes that create the song, matter; bad ingredients make bad cakes, bad notes make bad songs, and bad choices add up to falling short of the Lord, missing the target. Your heart goes out to this guy.

In the end, God won’t be mocked. He said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant (1 Kings 11.” There is a price to pay for sin, rebellion, disobedience. And we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; each of us will give an account of himself to God. How will you answer? The good news is, if you are saved and born again, you are not condemned; you escape judgment, punishment, wrath, and hell. But there are consequences in this world.

Michael, Harrison, and Tom are older and grayer now, maybe a little slower. So am I. No amount of CGI or makeup can change the inevitable: we grow old. The top priority is getting old to the glory of God and finishing well, to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” “The end of the matter, when all has been heard: fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14).