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  • Writer's pictureWayne Hoag

Finishing Well

On August 23, 1969, just 24 days after he became the first man to walk on the moon, Neal Armstrong, and the crew of Apollo 11, were honored by a New York City tickertape parade, the ultimate accolade for a job well done. At one point in the parade the composed Neal Armstrong, whose voice had never wavered as he said, “That’s one small step for a man and one giant leap for mankind” was visibly moved when he saw a placard being held by a parade attendee that said, “Through you, we touched the moon.”

I have often thought about those words, “Through you, we touched the moon.” I have pondered the fact that vicariously, through Neal Armstrong, every American touched the moon.

After 45 years of pastoral ministry, I have one great desire, to finish well. When one studies the lives of Israel’s kings, they discover that only a handful of them finished well. Many started well, only to falter at the finish line. A good start does not guarantee a good finish, a fact that has been confirmed again and again by the well-publicized failures of many contemporary ministers. In fact, just today, I read of another well-known Tennessee preacher who has been removed from ministry because of sexual indiscretions. Whether it is sexual failures, misappropriated finances, or heavy-handed leadership, no minister is immune from such temptations.

There are two things that motivate my desire to finish well. First, I long to hear the words of my Lord on the day that I stand before Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Second, to hear someone say, in that land of eternal reward, “Through you, I touched Jesus.”

The difference between, “Through you, we touched the moon” and “Through you, I touched Jesus” is that unlike Neal Armstrong, millions of Americans did not literally touch the moon, but when I have born witness of Jesus, and others have responded, they too can know and touch the Savior that I serve. And we will walk in heaven together.

One day, when talking to a dear friend, a Christian surgeon, he said to me, “Wayne, one day my best handiwork will lay in the grave, the fruit of your labor is going to live forever.” Which brings to my mind the words of Jesus, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27). O, I so long to finish well.

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