Finishing Well

6 10 2010

I once heard someone say, “Starting is easy; finishing well is hard.” I am not sure that starting is always easy. In fact, it is essential because you can’t finish what you don’t begin. But starting is easier than finishing. It is easy to get excited about a new idea, new project, new relationship, or new desire. We dive in, make plans, dream big dreams, and set sail on a sea of enthusiasm and high expectations.

Then we hit a bump in the road. The going gets tough, our schedules get busy, or the task is more daunting than we originally imagined. People complain, resources get stretched, and the finish line looks farther away than it did when we started. So we give up, quit, or set it to the side to be tackled later.

Sometimes our forward movement gets stuck in “good enough” mode. We have done well, stuck with it, and are close enough to the end to see movement and celebrate the journey. So we slow down, becoming satisfied with where we are rather than pushing toward the finish line.

In the end, it doesn’t matter too much if the guest room doesn’t get painted or you don’t finish the novel you started on vacation. However, when it comes to looking like Jesus, finishing well is everything. Paul put it this way – “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14

My Jesus Resolution today is to set my heart on finishing well. I am going to commit to crossing the finish line. I want the full image of Jesus to take shape in my life. Even if I have given up, slowed down, or gotten distracted, I want to renew my desire to finish well in Him. I am going to pick up my Bible and read today. I am going to spend time in prayer and praise. I am going to call a friend and share something God has been doing in my life. I am going to open my heart to the fullness of the transformation He wants to work in me. I am going to remember that God is holding on to me. Finishing well means always holding on to Him.





Patience

4 10 2010

Patience is a virtue. I am not really sure that our society has a good grasp on the meaning and importance of virtues any more. We know they are supposed to be good things, but seem a bit dusty and antiquated.

According to the dictionary, a virtue is “the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness.” When we let God define our virtues, it is a snapshot of what it means to look like Jesus.

Patience is one of those virtues that helps frame the presence of Christ in our lives. I struggle with being patient. It requires waiting, slowing down, and putting my desires to the side while making room for God to work. Instead of being patient, I often complain about how slow people are moving, question why answers don’t unfold in my timing, and wonder aloud about when things are going to align according to my perfect plan.

Recently, I was talking about patience (and my lack thereof) with a group of friends and they shared a definition that stopped me in my tracks. Patience, they explained, is waiting without whining.

Light bulbs started popping all over the place. Patience is more than suffering through the moment in order to get what I want. Patience is waiting, trusting, and depending on the goodness of God. Patience is best framed in a heart that can worship, instead of whine, while it is waiting. It declares the faithfulness, righteousness, and mercy of the Lord even before it sees answers or experiences resolution. A patient heart finds joy in the act of waiting, experiencing the presence of God in moments where I tend to whine about wasted time.

My Jesus Resolution today is to wait without whining. I am going to practice patience (and it will take practice!). I am going to see moments of waiting today as opportunities to praise Him, rather than tapping my foot and complaining. If I view those times that require patience with the expectation that God is going to do something good, I might be surprised at how God infuses those moments with His grace.





God is Bigger Than…

1 10 2010

They say our world is getting smaller. Technology allows us to see and interact with places in the world that only a few years ago were out of reach. But we still deal with big things. Our struggles pile up until all we see are shadows. Sorrow, heartache, pain, and exhaustion make us feel small and insignificant. Sometimes we can’t say that it will all be okay. We can’t promise the direction of the outcomes, the timing of solutions, or a resolution that will ease our breaking hearts. Sometimes all we can do is rest in the truth that our God is bigger.

God is bigger than…

            – sin, addiction, bad habits, and poor choices

            – doubts, worries, and heartaches

            – loneliness and longing

            – family struggles

            – work problems

            – political instability

            – financial concerns

            – physical pain

            – unrealized dreams

            – death

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”           – Ephesians 3:17b-18.

My Jesus Resolution today is to remember that I serve a big God. He is working right now to clear away anything that blocks my way to His heart. He is big enough to break down the walls of sin, fill in the ditches and ruts left by my bad habits, and walk with me through the consequences of my poor choices. He is bigger than the people who rock the peace of my heart. He is bigger than the forces that seem unstoppable in our society. God is bigger than anything I will face today. He is bigger than my greatest joy. He is bigger than my deepest sorrow. Today I am going to let the words of a children’s song paint their way across my day – “My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do!”