Many of you watched the Olympics and while I am typically not all that excited about the Olympics, I am intrigued by some of the stories connected to the Olympics. I always feel so bad for the athlete who loses his or her event by one tenth of a second or sometimes even less. Think about this – many of those athletes have trained incredibly hard and made sacrifices for four years or more only to lose the event at the very end. That must be heartbreaking. Sometimes the difference between winning the gold medal or winning nothing at the Olympics is determined by less than an inch or a mere tenth of a second at the finish line.
The last thought I shared with you was about “crossing the line” – discerning when to take action and when to stop and let God take over. Today I want to talk about another line, the finish line.
In almost every aspect of life, the way you finish is more important than how you start. I will share a personal story with you from my high school days that illustrates that point.
“Back in the day” I was a sprinter on the track team which basically means all my races were short. Although the longest race I participated in was the 800 meters (that is one time around the track). I was forced to run in a longer event, along with my normal events, due to a team mate’s injury. I found myself running in the 1,600 meters event (two times around the track) for the first time ever. I had no experience in this event so all I could do is give it my best shot. As the race began, I took off as I typically do running the 800 meters race. Much to my surprise, I was leaving the other runners in the dust! After one full lap around the track, I had a commanding lead. As I came to the halfway mark of the second and final lap, I noticed the gap between me and the rest of the pack was closing, but I was still feeling strong and honestly thought I had the race in the bag. Suddenly, as we came to the final stretch of the race about 200 meters from the finish line, my legs became as heavy as iron and the other runners blew by me as if I was standing still. I finished in last place and by the time I crossed the finish line the other runners were already off the track. Not my greatest moment. I started out strong, but I did not know how to pace myself for that race and was unable to finish well.
The reason I took you on that trip down “memory lane” was to illustrate this. It is not always how you start that is important. It is how you finish. This is true in our walk with Christ, projects, personal development, etc.
For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Hebrews 3:14 (NLT)
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT)
I feel in my heart that some of you may have lost some of the energy and excitement you once had for the ministry God has called you to and your “ministry legs” may feel heavy as iron as you run toward the finish line. You may even feel bored or unchallenged within your current responsibilities. If that is you, then let me say “welcome to the club.” If you have been in ministry for any length of time, you have probably felt this more than once. If you have not felt this, trust me, you will. Let me encourage you to pray this prayer:
“God, renew my passion for the ministry you have entrusted to me and give me a fresh vision for what could be.”
I challenge you to find a way to disrupt any pattern of thinking or working that has contributed to boredom or lethargic effort. There are times we need to wait, but there are times God is actually waiting on us. Instead of waiting on your circumstances to change, it may be time to change your circumstances with a fresh perspective and a renewed sense of passion.