Summary: The fourth quarter is the best quarter of life.
SERVING THE LORD IN THE FOURTH QUARTER OF LIFE
or BE A FOURTH QUARTER CHRISTIAN
Rick Lance (Executive Director, State Board of Missions, Alabama Baptist State Convention)
If you are a fan of college football, you know that the game is divided between two halves – the first half and the second half. There are four quarters as well.
Arguably, the fourth quarter of the game is the most important. Many games are won or lost in the fourth quarter. That is why you often see a team raise four fingers when the fourth quarter begins. It is their way of saying, “The fourth quarter is ours. We are going to win in the fourth quarter and, therefore, win the game.
Life can be viewed as having four quarters as well. If you assume the average life span to be 80 years, then the first 20 years is the first quarter. The years 20-40 is the second quarter; 40-60, the third quarter; and 60-80, the fourth quarter.
What we call senior adulthood is basically fourth-quarter living. Twenty percent of Americans are in the fourth quarter of life. It is the fastest growing segment of our population. Almost every church is led by fourth-quarter Christians.
The Psalmist knew something about fourth-quarter Christian living long before there was the game called college football. In that majestic affirmation of the greatness of God we call Psalm 90, the Psalmist declares in verses 10-12:
“Seventy years are given to us! Some may even reach 80. But even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they will disappear and we are gone.
“Who can comprehend the power of your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve.
“Teach us to make the most of our time; so that we may grow in wisdom” (New Living translation).
How can we make the most of our time? As we grow older how can we also grow wiser? To use the football analogy, How can we serve the Lord in the fourth quarter of life?
Based upon my understanding of God’s Word and the life I have lived in the past three quarters, I want to offer four recommendations to you.
I. First, IN THE FOURTH QUARTER OF LIFE, LIVE WITH YOUR FEELINGS.
Verse 10 of Psalm 90 declares: “…even the best of these years are filled with pain and trouble.” Pain and trouble are a fact of life. In the football game of life people get hurt. Most players will tell you that by the fourth quarter of a game everyone plays hurt. The linemen have been roughed up, the running-backs and receivers are bruised, and the quarterbacks are battered.
This past season you and I witnessed something unusual. If you watched the University of Alabama football team, you were probably amazed, as was I, that punter Lane Bearden played the past part of the season with a leg brace. He had a season-ending injury, for most players, but because he was a punter and did not routinely experience contact, Lane chose to play. In a couple of games he had some contact. In fact in one game he made a touchdown-saving tackle. After punting the ball the kick-returner came toward him and Lane Bearden took the challenge. He tackled the runner, saving a touchdown.
By the fourth quarter of life we are bruised, battered, and beaten down by the experiences we face. We all have to play hurt. Not one of us has a clean jersey. We all have experienced the brutal nature of the football game of life.
For some the pain and trouble is the loss of a mate. You grieve, but you keep playing the game. For others it is a health issue. You experience the pain, but you keep playing the game.
In the fourth quarter of life serving the Lord means living with your feelings of pain and trouble. By this time of life you know what it means to suffer and to hurt. The challenge is to keep playing while you hurt. You nurse your pain and trouble but serve the Lord despite it. You will not and you really can not say “I quit.” This is the fourth quarter of life. You put your four fingers up into the air and say, “Victory in the fourth quarter.”
II. Second, IN THE FOURTH QUARTER OF LIFE, LEARN FROM YOUR FAILURES.
At halftime in the locker-room the coaches and players make a lot of adjustments. They talk about the miscues and the mistakes, and they seek to learn from them.
When college football was still a young game and the Rose Bowl was the bowl game in which every team wanted to play, there was the legendary story of Roy Riegels. You probably remember him as “Wrong Way Roy Riegels.” He received that negative description because in the confusion of the game he recovered the ball and ran the opposite, or wrong, direction and placed his team in an unwinnable position. Yet, in life, Roy Riegels went the right way. He finished college and went on to a career of public service as the Superintendent of Education in one of the largest school systems in America. He was known as a tremendous motivator and a great encourager.