Finish lines come in many shapes and sizes and occasions. They intersect life in virtually every daily circumstance, from a day at the office to the benediction at church. Yes, we can track some morbidity in the discussion too. You know, the final finish line six feet under or in an urn on the fireplace mantel. Whether they're exams at semester end or turning off the lights at the end of another day, finish lines mark life progress, or in many cases, lack of it. American culture celebrates starting blocks, new enterprise, projects on the horizon, goals and aspirations, being first in line, initiating, joining, and getting head starts. In many ways, however, ours is a world of drop-outs, changing directions, lengthy to-do lists, and things we'll get to next week. Unfinished may be the operative word of exponential living.
Key stroke problem solving has conditioned us to expect flash solutions. The finish line in many life endeavors is blurred by pass words, work-arounds, do-overs, pop-ups, and instructions to follow these 37 simple instructions. Complications activate our delete, unfollow, unfriend, and ignore impulses. The other day I noticed over 200 notes, letters, articles, and other correspondence that I had relegated to the draft folder during 2019, each a piece of unfinished business. Every time I venture into our back porch storage closet I am greeted by the tools, implements, and hardware purchased to pursue some household project my good intentions had planned. One set of bolts and brackets were still in their original retail store bag. When I found the crumpled receipt I thought about returning the equipment for a refund. Oops! It was dated four years ago. They probably wouldn't take it back after such a long delay.
Finishing is more than a personality issue. Sure, pop psychology urges us to finish well or strong and know the personal satisfaction of completing a job well-done. We are even warned about the Zelgamik Effect, that is, our tendency to remember and dwell on unfinished tasks more than ones that were completed. Sounds like the old guilt trip to me. My point, however, is the spiritual dimension of finishing whatever we start. It is a recurring theme in Scripture and should provide impetus for believers in starting and finishing the various tasks of daily life, especially those assignments given by God. Several examples provide guidance in this regard---
In the Old Testament Ezra wrote about re-building the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
So this Sheshbazzar came and laid the foundations of the house of God in Jerusalem.
From that day to the present it has been under construction but is not yet finished.
Ezra 5:16, NIV
So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai
the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple
according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and
Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.
Ezra 6:14, NIV
In the same way, Nehemiah wrote about re-building the walls around Jerusalem. He recorded dissent in the Jewish community and great opposition from the Gentiles who lived there as well. He explained how he people overcame the many obstacles that hindered their work. Then he noted---
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
Nehemiah 6: 15, NIV
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul challenged the Corinthian believers to fulfill their plans for an offering to sustain the impoverished church in Jerusalem. In his Second Epistle he wrote---
Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your
completion of it, according to your means.
2 Corinthians 8: 11, NIV
So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the
arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a
generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
2 Corinthians 9: 5, NIV
Today and tomorrow are choice opportunities for us to finish many of the good intentions that followed us through 2019. Some of them are too complex for completion in a mere two days. But, others can be accomplished. Go ahead, as soon as possible---make that phone call; speak to that person; clean up that mess; pay that bill; write that letter; clear up that misunderstanding; wave to your neighbor; offer that apology; seek that forgiveness; get to church next Sunday; hug your child; thank your husband or wife. It's a choice moment to go to the finish lines of those good intentions as another year draws to a close.
And, be ready to hit the starting blocks of 2020.
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