I recently borrowed a book from a friend called How to Ruin Your Life by 40 by Steve Farrar, and though I haven't gotten far through it, I thought I would share this segment out of the second or third chapter that really impacted me. I think about so many people, and-- well, I guess I'll let you read it yourself.
When Bisagno was twenty-one, he was very excited. He was getting ready to graduate from college and marry the love of his life. He also decided to go into full-time ministry. He was very optimistic about his future. One night, he was having dinner at his fiancee's home. After dinner, he went outside on the porch with his future father-in-law, Dr. Paul Beck. Dr. Beck had been in ministry since he was John's age. You could say he'd seen a lot of water go under the bridge. As they were talking about John's future plans and dreams, Dr. Beck gave him some advice: "As you go into ministry, John, make sure you stay close to Christ every day."
Young John replied, "Yes, sir. I know that's important."
His future father-in-law continued:
You're just getting started in this race. And it's a very long race. You won't hit the finish line until you're in your seventies or eighties. The finish line is a long way off, John. But the goal of this race is to finish strong. And that's the last thing that Satan wants you to do. That's why you have to keep your heart close to Christ every day. It's been my experience that for every ten men who start strong with Christ in their twenties, only one out of those ten will finish strong.
That shocked John Bisagno. The staggering statistic left him in disbelief.
"That can't be. Just one out of ten?"
"Unfortunately, that has been my experience. Some men are taken out by love of money, others are taken out by theological liberalism, and many more are taken out by [s] immorality. Satan knows how to lay a trap and set an ambush. He knows every man's weaknesses. That's why it's been my experience that only one out of ten will finish strong."
John Bisagno was blown away by the remarks of the older man. He was so stunned that he went home and started thinking about his friends. They were all in their early twenties and all had bright futures. They were fully committed followers of Christ.
He was graduating from a Bible college, and many of his buddies, like him, were going to be pastors, missionaries, youth leaders, and worship ministers. He couldn't believe that only one out of ten would finish strong. The very idea shook him to the core. And it was then that he got the idea.
He took his Bible and turned to a blank page in the back. On that page, he wrote down the names of twenty-four of his friends. He knew these guys. Like him, they were all in their early twenties. The idea that all of them wouldn't finish strong was unthinkable. Maybe Satan would pick off a few, but surely most of them would stick. These were guys who would be willing to die for Christ, if necessary.
I heard Bisagno tell this story a number of years ago. It got very quiet in the room when he began to tell the rest of the story.
"As the years have gone by, from time to time I have gotten a letter or telephone call. And sadly, I have turned to the page in the back of my Bible and had to put a line through a name. I would always do that with such great sadness. The years have gone by and I am now fifty-three years old. Of the original twenty-four names in the back of my Bible, there are just three of us left."
Twenty-four young men who were all in their early twenties. Thirty-two years later, there are just three of them still standing. The majority of those men had ruined their lives before they turned forty.
What will your life look at when you turn forty?