This is, by far, the best book I’ve read on how to finish our lives for the glory of God. It’s both practical and biblical. Dr. John Dunlop, an elder in an Evangelical Free church in Illinois, with an MD from Johns Hopkins and an MA from Trinity, is the ideal person to write on the subject. Not only is he wise and caring, but he’s a veteran geriatrician and a man of God who is well versed in His Word.
Finishing Well to the Glory of God is full of biblical and practical recommendations for facing our older years and eventual death. However, I recommend not waiting until you’re elderly or facing a life-threatening disease to read this book. Now is the time.
Dr. Dunlop believes to finish well means that God is “glorified in our lives till the moment of our death and then by the legacy we leave behind.”
The author develops nine strategies for finishing well. They serve as the chapter titles in the book and come from his study of the Word, as well as his vast experience in working with older patients.
- Live well.
- Let go graciously.
- Treasure God’s love, and love Him in return.
- Grow through adversity.
- Embrace a Biblical view of life and death.
- Complete your agenda. (He has some wonderful suggestions here.)
- Make appropriate use of (medical) technology. (Only a Christian physician could write this chapter.)
- Change gears from cure to comfort care. (Wise insights on hospice and palliative care.)
- Rest in Jesus. (This last chapter is rich in insights on dying well.)
I really like the two “rules” that Dr. Dunlop gives all his patients as they contemplate their upcoming retirement. You should wake up every morning knowing what you are going to do that day and go to bed every night knowing that you helped someone.
On a similar note I appreciated his six prescriptions for finishing life well:
- Recognize your God-given value.
- Find purpose for each day.
- Cultivate and maintain deep friendships.
- Laugh a lot.
- Invest in your health.
- Avoid the things that rob quality from the older years.
Besides all the practical advice for facing our older years and eventual death, I resonated greatly with the writer’s emphasis on the importance of having a full assurance of God’s love for us, as well as our developing a love for Him – even a longing for Him. That’s what best prepares us for facing the end of our lives. I appreciated too his understanding that though pain and suffering are the results of Adam’s fall, God can still use them to accomplish His purposes in us, His children.
Dunlop develops in some depth a biblical view of both life and death. He shows biblically that though death is an enemy, for the believer it is a defeated enemy. Death leads to receiving our reward and eventually our resurrected body. For the believer, there is no condemnation in Christ, yet there will be a judgment of our works (1 Cor. 3:12-15). We can be assured that God sovereignly controls death. For a good summary of much of what the Bible teaches about death, read 2 Cor. 5:1-10.
Let me share with you one last gem: in dying it is important to have good closure with loved ones. We should say the following four things to them frequently: (1) I love you. (2) Thank you. (3) Forgive me. (4) I forgive you.
What I’ve shared is just the tip of the iceberg of this outstanding work.