Monday, December 26, 2016

Finishing Well .......... Parables 528

October 8, 1996 ?

A few years ago during the Mexico City Olympics, a marathon runner finished the race so far back that people wondered why he bothered. He gave this reason: “I do not represent my country to start the race but to finish it.”

In any endeavor, finishing well is an accomplishment. No matter what we set ourselves to do, obstacles appear in our path. Sometimes they throw our focus away from our goal. Sometimes they trip us and slow us. Sometimes they put us right out of the race.

Boredom does that to me. I take on a challenge that seems important in the beginning but slow down or quit because my interest level drops. The only way I overcome that obstacle is through making sure of my initial commitment. It also helps to remember that interest levels are like emotions; they come and go. True commitment remains and continues to motivate.

Sometimes I slow down or get sidetracked by other concerns. For instance, if I am in school and a there is a crisis in the family, I will skip classes for the family’s sake. They rate higher on my priority list. Priorities are based on values and include those things we want to maintain or keep in our lives. Our values shape our daily decisions—from what to eat for supper to where we put our check mark in an election. Conflicting values cause problems. They can prevent us from finishing what we start by continually sidetracking us.

Fatigue is another obstacle that delays or prevent finishing. A difficult task drains energy and strains emotions. Stress increases. Stopping for a rest is one way to overcome this obstacle. Another is to learn how to work smarter, not harder.

Losing sight of the outcome can also trip us up, like a knitter who loses the pattern and cannot remember what how the sweater should look. Visualizing results is important so we know where we are going. Otherwise, projects are left unfinished.

According to the Apostle Paul, our race through life is not a simple dash. It is like an Olympic marathon. Our “finish line” is to become perfect reflections of Christ. Since we are not yet what we will be, we strive toward that goal. Running well and finishing well require endurance, but we also have a set of obstacles to overcome if we want to reach our prize.

Mixed priorities can entangle us. As Jesus said, some distractions are like weeds. They choke out our response to the Gospel and prevent God’s Word from producing fruit or results. He defined these weeds as “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of riches.” Worry takes our eyes off the loving sovereignty of God and riches easily become an idol and our goal. Either obstacle can choke our faith and slow our progress.

Fatigue, of a spiritual nature, also affects Christians. In our battle against the devil’s lies, the world’s temptations, the lure of our own sinfulness, we sometimes trip, fall and grow tired of trying to win. However, the Bible says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Another verse says, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

We need to continue with our eyes on God’s promised results and rewards. He assures us that the good we do will have an eternal effect. He guarantees that those who trust Christ will reach heaven. When we do, we will be like Him. What a great reward!

As for boredom, some assume the Christian race is dull, but boredom is seldom an obstacle for anyone who is in the running. When we give our lives to Christ, we become His representatives; we make a commitment to start the race and He makes sure we will finish it.

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