So, yesterday morning I thought I'd do something nice for Harriet and sweep our small patio. Yes, it had been raining for a day or so and I learned a lesson that a man my age should have already tucked away in those memory synapses years ago. It is impossible to sweep wet leaves. An hour later I finally threw in the towel. During porch time I pondered why I'm so driven with a desire to complete that nearly impossible task. What is this thing about getting things done, bringing life pursuits to a logical conclusion. Not quitting.
It occurred to me that two possible forces drive this impulse. On the one hand is the OCD that we talk about so much. You know, obsessive compulsive disorder. We laugh about it often and I usually pass it off as my being obsessive compulsive and Harriet being disorder. Ha! Ha! In some ways we can admire people who seek to get it done in the various avenues of life. Still, the experts over in the psychology department label this kind of focus as a disorder. It's really not normal to sweep wet leaves in the rain even as they continue to fall. Disorder indeed.
There is also the personal wiring thing. All of us are equipped for life by personal strengths laced into our fabric while in the womb. They are the talent we're born with that are shaped and matured further by education, experience, and the various learning modules of life. The Achiever strength that shows up in every one of my strength arrays keeps me plugged into my to-do lists, manic time measurement, and probably my bent for stubbornness. I mean, what normal person would stand in the pouring rain to prove mastery over a pile of leaves.
You know what I wish and pray? That this never say die attitude was in fact the spiritual discipline of finishing. Ahhh! That's what I wish was the driving pressure point to get 'er done, strong willed and purposeful to the final stroke. But, alas, while it should be what pushes my personal buttons I'm fearful it isn't. Mr. Stubborn prays for a steadfast spirit instead, the virtue of finishing that was so evident in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples early on that "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4: 34, NIV). And, who among us doesn't know the final words he spoke from the cross, "It is finished!" (John 19: 30, NIV).
Finishing is the product of endurance, perseverance, and the spiritual fruit of patience. They give us mere humans the where-with-all to pursue and fulfill the mission entrusted to us. They are more than natural inclinations or personality disorders. Each is discovered in a consistent personal devotional life and a strong commitment to follow the example of our Master and walk in his steps. We do have limits, us mortals. To live beyond them relies further on the incredible promises God provides for our life mission and purpose, as long as that mission and purpose reflects Scriptural principles consistent with the life of Christ.
And, that's a big deal today if we are to follow Christ in these challenging times. To follow Christ in a world like ours, and to influence it, requires a focus on the finish line to see us through. Sadly we have become a nation of spiritual also-rans with little follow through in our personal spiritual growth and maturity. What is that finish line? For believers it is the day when we will stand before the Lord and hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25: 23). That should be our guide to the discipline of finishing.
Not a disorder or even personal asset. It is the blessing of heaven.
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