Our Choices MatterBlog / Produced by The High Calling
"At seventy-four years of age, I’m thinking back over my life: my beginning as a follower of Jesus Christ, my middle years, and now my stumbling kick to the finish line." In this article from our series Finishing Strong, Jean Fleming reflects on what it means to "number our days."
Moses was thinking of the brevity of life and need for wisdom to live well when he prayed, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Numbering our days is not a mathematical calculation, but a call to wide-awake living. No one knows how many years, days, hours, or minutes are left in his life. I hear in Moses’s prayer a warning to spare us from realizing too late that we missed God’s intention for our vaporous earth-days. It’s the wisdom we need to finish strong.
At seventy-four years of age, I’m thinking back over my life: my beginning as a follower of Jesus Christ, my middle years, and now my stumbling kick to the finish line. I’m thinking too, of you, my reader, who may be twenty, thirty or fifty. No matter the age, we never know how close we are to the finish line. It’s not the number of years, after all, that is the issue. Jesus lived only thirty-three years on earth, but He lived well and finished strong.
The One Choice That Changes Everything
The phrase “finishing strong” implies a start, middle, and end. Every life is a story, a narrative, threaded with choices. The choices made over a lifetime impact—perhaps even determine—if we finish strong. As for me, I’ve made good choices and poor choices. But I believe that one choice I made will, by God’s grace, help me live well to the end.
I was a senior in high school when I responded to Christ. I knew little, but the gospel was clear in my mind. I prayed, “God, I want what Jesus did on the Cross to count for me.” He flooded in. For the first time I came to the Bible with spiritual connection. Reading the Bible and praying wasn’t a discipline; it was a spiritual aphrodisiac. The terms devotions, quiet time, etc. were unknown to me. I was engaged in an affair of the heart. But sometime in my first year of college, I hit the gravel. It shook me.
The Discipline of Good Choices
The heady sense of God’s presence was gone, but I kept returning for my morning date with Jesus. One day in this dry period, God met with me as I read, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Eze. 36:26). Jesus was speaking words into my heart.
In times of heady richness and in parching drought, he is present.
Later, as a mom of three children born in four years, with spit-up on my shoulder and a fatigued brain bordering on hamburger, I turned my cloudy mind to his word again and again. Those times with the Lord took a different shape, but the choice and the heart, cobwebby though it was, remained consistent. Good choices must be made over and over. Our choices shape our lives. Morning after morning for fifty-seven years, Jesus has met with me as I bend over my open Bible.
From my beginning with Christ, all through the middle part of my life, through sin-skinned knees, dark scary times, some mud-wading, and much sweet blessing and fruitfulness, I’ve chosen daily to reserve part of my day for the Lord and his Word. Now in the last quarter of my life, the mingling of desire and discipline wrapped up in this choice is my sweet spot. My energy level is diminished. I must still make choices where my time and energies will go. As I look to the finish line, one thing becomes clear for me: the life we end up with is the life we’ve chosen amidst life’s complexities and alternative possibilities. Life is short. Our choices matter. Good choices must be chosen again and again. Perhaps this is gaining a heart of wisdom and a path to finishing strong.