Oh, if you could see the list of unfinished blog posts hidden behind the curtain of this site. I’m great at starting. Everyone is.
But you’ll likely never read those, simply because they’ll probably never been completed. Starting well is fine. Finishing well is really the point though.
When my wife and I were newlyweds, we excitedly joined a gym so that could get up together early each morning before work and exercise. The gym was only about 5 minutes across our small town, so it was very convenient. The problem was there was a McDonald’s directly in our path. More often than I might care to admit, we’d ditch our exercise plans in exchange for a breakfast burrito! And after finishing the burrito, did we THEN go to the gym to work it off? Nah. We usually went back home and got back in bed. Everybody starts well.
The letters in the Bible written by Paul are full of encouragements, exhortations, and challenges to finish well. But what does finishing well in my faith look like exactly? Well, from what Paul explains, here are a few things included:
1. Face forward. If we’re going to follow Christ, we’ve got to be focused on Christ. Have you ever been driving along in your car and something to the side catches your eye? Like a fender bender? Or a yard sale? Or a jogger? You turn your head to look and before you know it, your car is veering in the direction you’re looking! Like it or not, the trajectory of your life follows the direction of your focus.
2. Unremember. God is not a forgetful God when it comes to our sins; He simply “chooses not to remember” our sins. He doesn’t misplace my sins like I misplace my keys. On the contrary. He knows EXACTLY where my sins are! They are nailed to a Roman cross on a hill called Golgotha. I am free from their grip, their penalty, and their condemnation because of Jesus sacrificial death on that cross. But I’m awfully good at stewing in my own sin, crippled by shame and guilt rather than, like God, remembering no more my forgiven sins.
3. Look around. Now, I’m not trying to contradict #1, but I do believe there is great value in looking into the stands of those who have finished before us. Hebrews 12 speaks clearly and beautifully about the “great cloud of witnesses” that surround us, cheer us, and await us. I used to be a pitcher in little league. I recall vividly the times when my coach had a forlorn look on his face in the dugout because of my too-slow fastball, or my way-too-straight curveball, or my “meatball” as it was called–the slow lofty one that hit the center of the strike zone; perfectly placed for the batter to knock the snot out of it. But I also remember my parents in the stands. I remember their look of love and interest and even pride. I remember that no matter how well or poorly I was pitching or playing that game, they were going to take me home anyway. We need to be reminded of those who are cheering us on, so that we don’t feel alone.
4. Press on. The concept of “pressing on” that Paul talks about is a “leaning forward”. Have you ever seen a foot race in the olympics where two or more runners are crossing the line at almost the exact same time? At the very last stride, they LEAN or even lunge forward in order to be the first one across that finish line. Paul is using this word picture to illustrate how we are to live lives that lean forward! Lunging to victory! Do I have that fire as I go about my every day? Do I have such desperation for a victorious life? How well do I “press on”?
The truth is, as we run this race, we don’t have any clue when the finish line will appear right in front of us. No one is promised tomorrow. My finish line might be only minutes away from right now, and so might yours. I want to be the kind of person who not only leaves the starting blocks with a bang, but crosses the line with a lean!