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LIFE ISSUES

Lots of things happened when I turned seventy. A weekend away with my family.  Congratulatory greeting cards.  A new camera. A new I-Pad.  Right alongside those gifts was a new and confronting awareness that I was probably now on the final leg of my earthly journey!!

On those rare occasions in my "middle years" when I have allowed my mind to wander to that part of life that we mistakenly call the "retirement years" I recall that my one great desire as a Christian and as a Pastor was  to "finish well". The Biblical record speaks too often about those who began well but ended poorly. I don't want to be one of them.

Enter King Asa .

He just popped up in our reading a week or so ago.  I was immediately hooked by the account of His life because it seemed to come in 2 parts - and each part different from the other. In some ways it was as if he was one person in the early years and yet his life changed somewhere and he became another person.

As I read his story, I had some questions. What happened in the course of his life that brought about such a change? How much did the change impact his relationship with God? Are there lessons for me in Asa's story, lessons that would be wise for me to learn and put into practice?

I'd like to have your company in this exploration. I haven't prepared ahead. I'll just write as I go. It may be just a couple of instalments or it may be considerably more than that. Let's walk and learn together.

(1)  BRIEF OVERVIEW OF ASA'S REIGN   (2 Chronicles chps. 14, 15, 16)

With the division of the Kingdom of Israel following the death of King Solomon, there were a series of kings in both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. Many or most of those rulers "did evil in the sight of the Lord". However there were a few whose lives and leadership were standout in the example they set for the nation.

Asa became King upon the death of his father, Abijah, and he immediately set about making huge changes. The opening credits on his life are summed up in the phrase, "Asa did what was pleasing and good in the eyes of the Lord his God". (2 Chron.14/2).

What Asa did pleased the Lord. My mind jumped immediately to the parable Jesus told of the 3 servants and His much-quoted assessment, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant.   (Matt 25:23 NLT).

That's what I mean by finishing well.

In such glowing terms, Asa is setting a good course for his reign. Yet, at the end of his life, a seer says to him, "What a fool you have been!" (16/9). A good start doesn't guarantee a good finish.  What happened to Asa that such a promising beginning ended with such a very different appraisal. Where did he go wrong? What did he do or not do that brought about such a disturbing reversal?  Is it possible to examine his relationship with God and his reign over his people so that we identify not only his wrong decisions or choices but to find their cultural equivalents in our day and age?

Who was it who said words to the effect, "Those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are  doomed to repeat them"? I hope you will join me for Part 2 of "Finishing Well".

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