Pastor Mitch McDonald, Sun Lakes Community Church
I recently had a conversation that brought the words of 2 Chronicles 15:7 to mind: “be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.” I had the privilege of visiting with Dr. Marc Drake, Pastor of First Baptist Church Sun Lakes. During our conversation, I learned of his upcoming retirement. As I thought about Marc, his decision to retire and his many years of ministry, I thought to myself, “I want to be like Marc.” I want to finish strong. For example, Marc has served for over 44 years in a number of churches and has been the senior shepherd at First Baptist Church Sun Lakes for just under 12 years. He is known throughout this entire community as one who teaches the whole counsel of God’s Word. His incredible love for people is seen daily, and Marc is never found without a smile on his face. As Marc and I visited, he acknowledged the bittersweetness of this time and how he will miss First Baptist Church Sun Lakes, but is eagerly anticipating the time he and his wife will be able to spend with their children and grandchildren. He also reminded me that we don’t find the word retirement in the Bible and that his life and ministry will continue to the end.
If there were ever an audience that seemed to understand and emulate this truth, it is here in Sun Lakes. Every day I have the privilege of interacting with men and women who are working hard and want to finish strong. As I thought about the idea of finishing strong, I was reminded of a couple of great men who were able to finish strong because of their perseverance.
One of those men was Thomas Edison, who is credited for inventing the lightbulb. He once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.” It is believed that there were 1,000 failures before he succeeded with the lightbulb. I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that he didn’t stop at 998 attempts.
I am also glad that so many of you who are reading this article continue to get up each morning and make a difference in our community. No matter how hard the past has been, no matter how many of life’s failures follow you, you still want to make a difference. But perhaps just one of you reading today has let your failures keep you from finishing strong. Let me remind you that there is a God of grace, love, and mercy Who beckons us to go forward. There are opportunities daily, all around us, to touch others’ lives. The apostle Paul stated it for us this way in Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”