High school and college football is about as fun to watch as anything I can think of, especially if you know someone who is on the team. It is extremely common to see teams that do well in the first three quarters and fall apart in the final quarter of the game. It really doesn’t do much good to start well or do well for the first three quarters if we lose it all in the end.
Life is a lot like a football game in that there are particular things that need to be done in each part of life. But a life lived well for the first three quarters isn’t worth much if we don’t finish well. Think of life in each of it’s quarters for a moment. In the first quarter we are on a learning, growing, developing mission. It is occupied with school, training and making many of the most important decisions of life. In this first quarter many decide where they will go to college and what they will major in while there. Many make the decision about what they want to do with their life during this quarter and stick with that decision for life. Some of us made the decision who to marry during that first quarter and committed ourselves to a person for a life time when we were still very young. Most people who commit their lives to Jesus Christ do so during this first quarter of life. During this time they can make decisions that will greatly affect the rest of their lives.
In the second quarter of life, usually between 20 and 40 years of age, many wonderful, exciting and challenging things happen. It is then that most people in our day decide who to marry, where they will live and if they will have children. Most decide to have children and determine how they will bring them up. During this time most start in their careers and begin to build their lives and mission. It is often the busiest segment of life. Many during this period determine to devote their lives to service to God and fellow man. Many change careers during this period and some change several times. We tend to set the course for rest of our lives during this time. We build on old friendships and establish many others. It is an exciting part of life.
The third quarter that is lived somewhere around 40 to 60 years of age is a time to grow deeper. Our children are growing up and during this time begin to finish high school and head to college. They are moving away, starting families of their own and life is changing drastically for us. Our work life is often in its most productive time. Many begin to face their mortality during this time. It is a time for correcting the course of life, changing things that need to be changed. It is a time to reestablish the love life with our mate. Often during this time people realize that just work and running family errands isn’t enough and look for ways to put more meaning into their life. They begin to think of the legacy they will leave when this life is completed.
The fourth quarter, the empty nest years is the time to determine the full meaning of our lives. It is the time when people often begin to think of retiring. Instead of feeling the pressure of how to bring up children our thoughts tend to be how we will have time with the grandchildren and enjoy being with them without the pressure of raising them. The sad part of the fourth quarter is that like football teams many reach this period of life having worked hard and lived well for the first three determine to waste the fourth quarter doing nothing worthwhile for anyone. Their whole focus becomes how to have fun, relax and avoid any work like the plague. The fourth quarter gives us the opportunity to use our time, money and resources to make a huge difference for good in the world. It is a time when we could do more in service to God than at any other period. We could mentor younger children, and even younger parents for God. We have the opportunity to volunteer in good works all around the city or area.
Certainly one can use this time to get involved in political things and fighting for their rights and I don’t think that is a bad thing. It just seems to me that the needs are so great in the world that we could dedicate ourselves to so many things that will make more difference for good. Think of all the poor, homeless, needy people around us. Think of the other countries that have so much need and don’t know of God’s love for them.
We could be missionaries to others young and old to show them the way to
God and a better way of life. Think of all the children who need parents, need a home and feel so alone in the world. What could we do to help in such cases? Think of all the older people who are alone, lonely and afraid of what the future holds for them. You could be the one to visit and be a friend for one who needs a friend deeply.
The fourth quarter is a tremendous time of opportunity. To waste it is like a football team deciding to go to the dressing room after the third quarter and give up when the game is a long way from over. What will you do in the fourth quarter of your life? Why not get out of the rocking chair and get with the action?