Finishing Strong is a goal I set for the Back 9 of life, a desire to leave a legacy of love and investment in people’s lives. It was a goal prompted as well by Tony Campolo’s book, Who Switched the Price Tags?
One of the best examples of finishing strong I have ever seen was found in a nursing home here in Columbia. We had just emptied our nest with our youngest, Collins, heading off to college. I was feeling blue. I learned a long time ago that the best way to get over blueness or a sad feeling was to get outside of myself and go do something for someone else.
I breathed a short prayer to God and simply asked, “Who should I go visit or help?” In just a few short minutes He immediately put a dear friend’s mother on my heart. We get to call her Nanny. Her son and his wife, Henry and Celia, are in ministry in Colorado but Nanny still lives in Columbia.
That evening after dinner, my husband Bill and I headed over to visit with Nanny. It was a great visit for many reasons. First, she was just a joy to talk to. I have never been in her presence without her finding a way to make me feel like a million dollars.
Second, and most importantly, was what I found her doing. This was again a testimony to the quote, “Your ACTIONS are so loud I can’t hear what you are saying!” As we walked into her room, we saw that she was sitting with a brace around her neck and, to the best of my memory, she had cracked a vertebrae in her neck.
Nanny, who, at the time, was 89 years old with a neck brace, in a nursing home, was sitting there writing cards to people. When she saw us she immediately put them down. While visiting with her, I asked what she was doing. She replied, “Catching up on my outreach!” I became very curious and I asked, “Outreach?”
She proceeded to tell me that she was behind on writing to people who had been sick, had birthdays, or had lost loved ones and she was trying to catch up on reaching out to those people. She then showed me the long list that she was working through. I was literally amazed at her tenacity for encouraging people at her age with a neck brace and in a nursing home. It spoke volumes to me! There is just no excuse for not daily seeking to reach out and encourage others. It is so simple and easy to do.
What if everyone reading this story decided that, for the next year, they would send a card of encouragement to someone? I do believe not only would others benefit, but I believe all of our lives would change for the better.
Of course, as God always does, He gave me more that evening than I ever gave Nanny. He gave me a picture of what Finishing Strong, looks like!
She is finishing the race put forth in 1 Corinthians 9:24, ”Do you not know in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” And in 1 Timothy 6:6-7, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.”
May we all be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).