Finish Well

A senior executive at Focus on the Family, seminary graduate, and seasoned Christian, there was every reason to think that Bruce Peppin should have scaled the mountains of midlife with skill and enthusiasm.  However, with his marriage and his family relationships deeply broken and his faith in God taking a nose dive, he realized that he had veered off course.  His journey out of despair and defeat is the basis for The Best Is Yet to Be:  Moving Mountains in Midlife, his five-part course correction manual for those of us who are hiking through or toward midlife.  Just as a mountain climber keeps her eye on the summit, the goal of midlife is to finish well and in accordance with Peppin’s well-framed definition:

“To finish life in right relationship to my God, spouse, family, fellow man, and the work He gave me to do.”

With “gray divorce” at an all-time high, long-term marriage is no longer a given apart from the grace of God and a commitment to faithfulness.  Peppin shares vulnerably how the Lord of the Breakthrough turned his own marriage around.  Sin and poor judgment calls from the past have a way of cropping up in midlife.  One’s own morality looms large, and this question even larger:  How have I spent the life God has given?

Using powerful metaphors but plain speech, Peppin challenges his readers to follow six principles for decisions, relationships, and mindset that are essential for midlife, but helpful to have mastered beforehand.  (The sooner the better!)

  1. Heroic invisibility:  Living a life of integrity before an audience of One requires a realization that recognition is not the priority — honoring God is the path to true self-esteem.
  2. Famous in heaven:  Living according to the standards of heaven, for applause from a heavenly stadium, yields right priorities.
  3. Decades not days:  Taking a long view toward preparation for future assignments and accepting His timing acknowledges and bows to the sovereignty of God.
  4. Be ready:  Assess readiness for scaling spiritual mountains by answering the following life-changing question:  “If God was looking for someone to use on an important assignment for the kingdom, would you be the one He’d choose, given your present attitude, behavior, and choices?”
  5. Drink the cup:  Climbing mountain peaks over fourteen thousand feet, Peppin has honed traits of dedication and perseverance.  It is tempting to quit before reaching the summit.  In the same manner, honoring commitments to the Lord requires the discipline of determination.
  6. Faithful to the end:  Inspiring testimonies of mentors and historical figures who endured despite obstacles and finished their course in faithfulness to God drive home the point and provide powerful motivation and inspiration.

Apart from Christ, the uphill journey of middle age could seem discouraging and pointless, but the power of God’s Word can transform feelings of rejection, fear, and failure into powerful Christ-exalting expressions of God’s sufficiency.  The Best Is Yet to Be challenges the reader to look beyond this life to consider the importance of a godly legacy. As Randy Alcorn has said, “Our present life on earth is the dot.  It begins. It ends. It’s brief.   But from that dot extends a line that goes on forever.  That line is eternity which Christians will spend in heaven . . . Live for the line, not for the dot.”  Peppin’s book stopped me in my tracks one afternoon as I considered the outcomes of finishing well:  a life of integrity, courage and reward.  There is food for thought here, but, more importantly, there is grist for one’s prayer life.  “Lord, help me to remember, as I walk through midlife, that there is no reward on earth that can compare with Your well-done.”

This book was provided by David C. Cook in exchange for my honest review.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

18 thoughts on “Finish Well”

  1. With all the changes that can come in midlife — empty nest, retirement, loss of responsibility in some areas — we often find ourselves more vulnerable than we expected. This can be surprising and unsettling, especially if we think we should “have it all together” by the time we get to this stage of life. All the more reason to had a solid foundation, and it sounds like this book really addresses that.

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    1. I see that you are correct, Wendy. My tendency is to think of mid-life as being a time or richness and availability in multiple ways, but it can also be a time of scaling back and questioning our purpose, especially if health issues loom.
      Blessings to you, and thank you for adding this point to the mix!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michele and thank you for linking up to our first #midlifesharethelove party. Your words ‘a life of integrity, courage and reward’ resonated with me. Whether one is religious or not we should all strive to live with integrity and courage. A very thought provoking book which I might check out. Have a great week!

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  3. So much food for thought here. When divorce was thrust upon me after 33 years of marriage I had no idea how to cope and fell into a black hole for a while. I’m sure this book would have been a great help to me. Thanks for the review

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  4. Hello from another Michele! This book sounds like it has many issues that I think about, especially the legacy issue. I love the dot metaphor. I want to know that what I have done on this earth makes a difference. I think about my legacy, what I have taught my children and what I will teach grandchildren in the future. I know my writing is part of my legacy too. I try to be a careful steward of what God has given me.

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    1. And we’re even spelled the same!
      Stewardship is such a key part of this season. We do tend to have more resources of various kinds, and it’s so easy to squander them on things that make no difference to anyone else and make us smaller in the process.

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  5. This is exactly why I think Midlife is so important – we still have so much yet to come and we can use that time to invest in others and make a real difference. I love to hear about people who manage to turn their lives around and live life better.
    I’ve shared this to my social media #MLSTL

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