The final segment of the GRIT challenge is Taking Responsibility for Today. One of four actions in Taking Responsibility for Today highlighted by Pastor Ed this weekend was to Always Finish. As illustrated by Ed, the Apostle Paul ran the race and finished the course. Paul finished strong. Finishing strong has been on my mind for a number of years. Several fine Christian speakers, such as Steve Farrar, that I have had the privilege of sitting underemphasized the importance of not only living the Christian life well but finishing just as well. A Godly man with true GRIT will finish strong. With this in mind, I write today A Tale of Two Doctors.
This past week we painfully observed Dr. Larry Nassar receiving a prison sentence of 175 years for the systematic and long-continuing course of sexual abuse of numerous members of the U.S. Women Gymnastic Team. Although the reports state the victims were part of the training program for women’s national team, most of those sexually abused and assaulted were young girls. Instead of finishing a twenty-year career basking in Olympic success and positive impact on the lives of many young girls, Nassar ends in disgrace, humiliation, horror and a legacy of evil and lives severely damaged. He is not finishing strong.
This week I am thinking of Dr. Omar Franklin. Omar went home to our Lord a few years ago and no doubt in my mind, he was greeted with the words, “well done good and faithful servant.” Dr. Franklin served his nation in the armed forces and served faithfully at First Baptist/GateWay Church for decades. He used his medical training and knowledge generously and without reservation for the benefit of untold thousands in Visalia and places I don’t even know. If you ask anyone who knew him, you will hear stories of giving, Christian service, and compassion. A simple story illustrating Omar’s professional kindness was not too long before he passed away in 2012. I had taken a spill while riding my bike and had a pretty nasty road burn on my shin. I had washed it and tried to keep it dry thinking it would eventually heal. As I entered the church on the way to my office I happened to see Omar back by Room 120. He was there, once again, giving free vaccinations to several young people on their way overseas for missions work. After saying hi he noticed my leg and said: “oh my.” He immediately pulled me into Room 120 and gave me a tetanus shot – no charge, no fee, no guilt, with a big smile and the kindness of Christ so evident. At his memorial service no one had any doubt, he finished strong. I hope and pray I will be a man who finishes strong.
I see many who are finishing strong at GateWay such as Norris Jernigan, Tom and Judy Stahl and Fayrene Hofer, to name a few. We quoted last week Proverbs 13:20 – He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. I am convinced a great help in finishing strong is to have the influence and wisdom of wise people. While today is still today, seek out people like these and increase your chances of finishing strong.