I don't believe in resolutions because they are too often a recipe for failure. But I do believe in checking the life journey course direction periodically and the New Year is a logical time to do just that.

Christmas week brought the sad news that an old friend had died. A Christmas letter informed us that a long ago friend lost a precious son in a car wreck. The Bible tells us that "man knows not his time". So as I reflect on the course direction for my remaining years I have a definite point of emphasis. I am praying that I will finish strong in my journey with Christ. Sadly that is not a given. Many great men of the Bible did not finish well. They allowed the efforts of many around them to end in frustration and anguish because they did not close well. The honest portrayal of human success and failing is something I love about God's Word. It is one important aspect that makes the Bible unique and real. The Bible does not spin the failures of godly men and women. Would you write a book attempting to persuade others to adopt your beliefs and deliberately choose to detail adherents who failed miserably? With all due respect to Mr. Bill O'Reilly, the Bible is the original "no spin zone". The successes and failures are equally displayed. Men with great stories still managed to not close well. Examples? How about the story of Saul? How sad it would be to hear words like this at the end of your journey.

"How foolish!" Samuel exclaimed. "You have disobeyed the command of the LORD your God. Had you obeyed, the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the LORD's command." (1 Sam 13, NLT)

Or imagine how Eli felt when the prophet came to him and proclaimed this dire message.

"Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, says: The terrible things you are doing cannot continue! I had promised that your branch of the tribe of Levi would always be my priests. But I will honor only those who honor me, and I will despise those who despise me. (1 Samuel 2, NETBible)

I would be willing to wager (note to Spiritual Hall Monitors - a figure of speech - no actual wagering occurred) that Saul and Eli were planning on closing well. They had moments of great leadership and fellowship with God. But they didn't finish well. You know that Saul's story ended in madness. The results for Levi's sons were horrific. His family needed a man who could start well, stay strong, and close it out with integrity and faith.

I want to finish strong. I want to close this journey with an effort that honors the One who was willing to finish for me.

Songwriter Mark Schultz is a brilliant writer/composer/storyteller. My reflections during this week brought his song "Time That is Left" to mind.

What will you do with the time that's left?
Will you live it all with no regret?
Will they say that you loved till your final breath?
What will you do with the time that's left?

And what will He say when your time has come?
And He takes you into His arms of love
With tears in His your eyes will He say "well done"?
What will you say when your time has come?

I live in the world of sports and I like that Paul understood athletics. Sports can be a good metaphor for life and Paul knew that well. At the end of my life race I have a couple of options on how to finiah.

a)      You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. (Galatians 5)
b)      You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith. (2 Tim 4)

I choose (b) for how I want to finish. Author Kenneth Blanchard says, "There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."

I am committed to this journey with Jesus. And I accept no excuses in my own life. I will fall at times. But because of His grace I can get right back up and follow Jesus faithfully. By keeping my eyes on Him I know that I can have the power to finish well. I pray that for you as well.