Jim Downing, one of the patriarchs of the Navigator work, was asked, "Why is it that so few men finish well?" His response was profound. He said, "They learn the possibility of being fruitful without being pure . . . they begin to believe that purity doesn't matter. Eventually, they become like trees rotting inside that are eventually toppled by a storm." (Emphasis mine)
I remember a few years back, it seemed the notion of "finishing well" was highlighted quite a bit, maybe in connection all the Promise Keepers events going on. In almost all of life, it seems that finishing is much more difficult than starting.
Today, for example, I finished painting the living room and a hall. This project was begun by Number One Son back before winter. It was just paint - nothing to tear up, nothing to repair - just lube the wall with pigmented latex. Easy as pie. It was months between the initiation and the completion.
And it is true in my spiritual life, as well. I remember the excitement and zeal of the early days of my faith. I remember spending hours thumbing through the Bible on any given day. I couldn't get enough. I remember anticipating meetings and gatherings of other believers and not wanting to leave them when it was over. Now, while I still desire these things, the energy is not the same. I think I see slippage in attitudes, in prayers, in ministry. I don't have the attention span I once did.
Maybe it is age. Maybe.
Or maybe, like Downing said, have I learned to be 'fruitful without purity?' Or said another way, am I settling for appearances instead of performance? Style over substance?
I hope not and, as I said, I notice the weakness, and hope my efforts in combating it, by God's grace, are real and successful.
(Downing quote from Desiring God blog - linked here.)