I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
This passage was read today at the funeral of a friend. I didn’t know Les until he was in his 80s, by which time he was no longer able to travel the world as he had done extensively with his wife, Joy, in the past, always with the aim of introducing people to the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Today, as people gave their tributes, I was reminded of some stories they had told me about those days, but realised also that there was so much more that they had done which will not be told this side of eternity. He truly had run a good race.
But Les also finished well. Though by the time I knew him, his globetrotting days were just about over, that was not the end of his effectiveness for Jesus. I am but one beneficiary. As an inexperienced pastor, I used to visit Les and Joy, always coming away feeling inspired to do more, be better and love Jesus more. On one notable occasion, sitting with our cups of tea in their living room, Les came straight to the point: “You’re not on the ball at the moment, Alison. Your preaching has lost its power.” He was right. What I appreciated most was his honesty and gentleness: not critical, but loving me enough not to let me get away with second-rate ministry and being less than on fire for the God he loved. And this mild correction was given in private; at other times when he thought things were good he would say so loudly.
I’m thankful to God for Les. He has now finished his race, and there are countless people who are in the kingdom of God, in ministry or just being better people for Jesus because of his influence in our lives.