A Final Chapter

A Final Chapter
Jimmy Peña

Be obedient and leave the consequences to God.”— Dr. Charles Stanley

I once had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Charles Stanley in Atlanta, Georgia. I've met a few celebrities in my career, but none of them ever made me nervous. Like, not really. But friends, my hands were sweating and my legs were shaking when I had the honor of speaking with him. You can’t be proud in the presence of the humble.

Well, yesterday morning I got the news that Dr. Stanley was stepping down as Senior Pastor in Atlanta. At 88 years old, he felt it was time to move on to other areas of ministry. He doesn’t believe in retiring, so he made certain to share that he will still be preaching the gospel and active in other areas of ministry.

Shepherd. Stud. Saint.

It was in his church that I experienced one of the first and most powerful moments with someone with special needs. I happened to be sitting behind a man who was paralyzed from the neck down. It was interesting to me that when the choir director asked the congregation to stand and sing, you could feel the collective reluctance of the crowd and could see the slow-moving wave rising to its feet. I thought to myself, I wonder how fast this sweet man would stand if he could.

The next song we sang was 'Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name.' You know what? This man's voice was the loudest one around me. When we were asked to stand, he already was.

I wrote in my journal that week, “It’s true that life is not about the body, but if you have health and ability, use it as a means of praise. And Jimmy, if you're called to stand and sing - and you can still stand up and sing  - then you stand up and sing!"  

Well, anyway, I ended up including in my latest book that Dr. Stanley delivered a message entitled, "Discipline Determines Destiny." Of course, he made it clear that he wasn't talking about eternal destiny, but that he wanted to discuss our earthly effectiveness; how we handle our money, our time, our relationships and ohhhh yes, while I was at the edge of my seat, he said it..."how we handle our health and illness."

None of the other topics received much of a reaction (perhaps because they were expected), but when he asked the question, "Who wants to live a long, healthy life?", there was a noticeable murmur. When it became quiet, Dr. Stanley simply asked his congregation how they expected to live abundantly when they're facing avoidable and preventable road blocks of health. Hearing it from me is one thing, but when Dr. Charles Stanley says it, it's another thing altogether.

As he preached, I scribbled. He used words and phrases like,

The value we place on our health will be evident in our diligence... Fulfilling, achieving, orderly, less stressful... Aimless and lethargic versus Godly and confident... Feeling good about yourself... Nothing to do with age... He still has the best in mind for you... Positive impact on others...health can be a way to witness... Build better health and a better faith...

Folks, go ahead and quiet the murmur in your mind and settle your thoughts on this one: Your health and illnesses are important to God. Any personal justification you've otherwise convinced yourself with, is false. Discipline determines destiny, and if you're reading this, yours is still unwritten.


Your giving will move the world or stop it. We need both to happen.

The gifts of mobility and respite.