The pictures of finishing are typically young, aggressive types joyously stretching to streak through the tape marking the end of the course. Those depictions didn't do much for me since I was usually out of shape, way past my prime as a runner, and most often struggling to finish whatever it was I had started. It's not a sprint anyway, this life. It's a cross-country route that every one of us finishes sooner or later. The larger life journey certainly has a starting point and a finish line. But, there are many others along the way and typically, we Americans start many more courses than we finish.
The picture above is from a values.com video clip that inspired me when retirement flashed across the screen in my head. I've shown it many times on this blog and have permission from values.com to use it. If you'd like some inspiration for the day click right here and you'll see this one minute clip. it's about finishing. Perhaps the encouragement in it was that it was a picture of me limping toward the finish line of thirty five years of pastoral ministry. You must know that God is never finished with us until we're in a box or an urn. But, retirement was the completion of one course and the beginning of another. Finishing that leg of the race was important.
We don't talk about the finish line all that much, and that's really a shame. The truth is that every stage of life, each pursuit and goal, usually has a starting point, a clear destination, and a time when the objective is reached. The pace of busyness, too many commitments, clogged intersections, and heavy traffic often throw us off course. Running in circles obscures the finish lines we've marked out. Finishing isn't high on the to-do list these days.
That's why I love the video. This old guy, with bleeding knees and heavy hiking shoes, has a finish line in his head. It's isn't about winning the race, hearing the crowds, posing for pictures, or being covered with confetti. It's about finishing. Evidently an image of that finish line is etched in his head and heart and he is compelled toward it. When the city parks and recreation workers start clapping and cheering, we're reminded that this race isn't finished alone.
Maybe it's an age thing, but the finish line has been in my devotions and personal time lately. it's a significant Scriptural theme, finishing. A couple of those verses are most influential as I think about the finish line of this life---
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to
all who have loved his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8, ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to
completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6, ESV
The buzz is to finish well or perhaps strong. That's the shallow sentiment of a feel-good culture that actually doesn't finish much. That's why this little video clip inspired me to finish.period. a couple of years ago. And, part of that thing is to talk about the finish line more---to visualize it, dream about it, value it, and pursue it. Then also, to make the finish line part of every day life so that we can reach the destinations that we set along the way.
Finish well? Yes. Strong? Of course. But, more than anything, finish. period.