READ: Ecclesiastes 6, John 1, Revelation 17
ENDING WELL: PENTECOSTAL DEATHS
We love Spirit-fueled beginnings. We love when God by His power starts something new and fresh. We love Alpha. But we are not so sure what to do about Omega. Pentecostal Christians in particular seem to have a difficult time when the Spirit of God brings something to an end. We are so enthused when God initiates some new work or ministry by His Spirit. We are so confused when God says it is time to go, time to stop, time to die. Jesus is the Omega–the end. Jesus stops things. Jesus ends things. Jesus halts ministries, the same ministries He began. Jesus often stops things before we are ready for them to be stopped, and missing the signs we press on long after Jesus removed His blessing. One of the most tragic occurrences in missions and ministry is when God’s servants try to labor on, long after Jesus has left. Ecclesiastes 6:3 mourns the absence of a proper burial. Closure is important on two levels: closure must be done well and closure must be done in a timely fashion.
Ending At The Right Time. There is a time to walk away from leadership and from responsibility. Our value is not derived from our positional influence. Missionaries who stepped away from position at the appropriate time went on to be more influential in their “retirement” than they were in their “career.” Good missionaries never retire in the earthly sense of the word, for kingdom responsibilities never end. Good missionaries, however, realize there is a time to pass the baton of active field service and shift to an informal mentoring role. Those that relinquished the need to stay on the front lines have found themselves invited back to influence the new generation of generals. Those that held to a field position with an iron grip often slide into sad marginalization; everyone except themselves realizing they stayed too long. Legacies are often tarnished because legends did not know when to gracefully meet their end.
Ending The Right Way. Not only do we need to recognize our end, we need to navigate it graciously. It is all too easy to mar a lifetime of service by some foolish or petulant act at the end. It is all too easy to launch ourselves into depression, feeding on hurts real and imagined when something precious to us is closed or taken away. We start ministries that do not continue; we fall in love with countries we are kicked out of; we enter into relationships that are changed by distance or promotion; and a thousand things that we wish continue do not. Good things end. It is critical to remember that the Spirit of God ends things as often as He begins things. It is just as spiritual to be halted as it is to be initiated. The removal of God’s empowerment can be just as divine as its endowment. When fully submitted to God, completely in tune to His will, His endings are as precious and liberating as His beginnings.