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Finishing well isn’t easy. I’m definitely not great at it. I made blinds for the windows in our office. Well, for 3 out of 4 windows, that is. A basket sits in my bedroom with a knitted afghan 90% complete. It’s been staring at me for two years. A stack of books, all half read sits by my bedside. I look around my home and wonder, “Why can’t I focus long enough to actually finish these things?”
It’s easy to pick up something new. I start with such enthusiasm. Then things get difficult. I make mistakes. I run into obstacles. I get bored, tired, frustrated. Maybe I take on too many things at once. It’s easy to start. Not so easy to finish. I’ve been learning the value of finishing well over the past few years, because some of our most important work happens near the finish line – when we are most tired, vulnerable and emotionally run down.
The last six miles of my first marathon were the most difficult miles I’ve ever run. The first 13 miles were fun, even easy. The next seven miles were challenging. But the last six miles took every ounce of physical and mental strength I had to just keep taking one more step. Those last 6 miles were the most important miles of the race.
Kedron drew this on our bathroom wall. He and I both have been working to live in that sweet little spot we filled in with black marker– where focus, perseverance and discipline overlap. That’s the spot where you finish well.
Finishing well is a goal we have not just for projects and responsibilities we take on. It’s a goal for our lives in general. Honestly, the thought of growing old scares me. I’ve seen it done gracefully, and I’ve seen it done bitterly and angrily. Finishing life well isn’t easy. Yet as the body begins to fail and gets harder to manage, it reminds me of the last 6 miles of a marathon. You can’t quit — because you haven’t finished yet. I want to cross that finish line, upright and smiling, knowing that I did the absolute best I could, all for God’s glory.
So in whatever situation you may be running the last few miles of — schooling, a church commitment, raising a child, restoring a relationship — look for that sweet spot of focus, perseverance and discipline. Don’t stop until you’ve crossed the finish line.
Hebrews 12:1-2 is a great focal point and reminder of why our focus, perseverance and discipline matters:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Look to Jesus, Who has gone before you, and even now runs with you.