Start Strong and Finish Well
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”- 2 Timothy 4:7
With the school year ending earlier this month and summertime officially beginning this week, I am reminded my senior year of high school. With about a month to go before graduation, I had a serious case of “senioritis” and had pushed the “auto-pilot/cruise-control button” when it came to my studies. I had no reason to fret, or so I thought, until I was informed of a looming danger if I could not keep a passing grade in math (at that moment I had a “D minus”). Even though I could still graduate, I would be unable to participate in the ceremony and walk on stage to receive my diploma.
Over the next month I had to muster all my focus and discipline to keep my math grade and graduation hopes from sinking. Ultimately, I passed math, participated in the ceremony, and lived to tell about it! What a shame it would have been for this one class, during that last semester in high school to be the undoing of four years of hard work and a solid overall GPA. The lesson for us from my senior year is this: It is important to START STRONG and FINISH WELL!
When it comes to our faith starting strong means building our lives on Jesus. He is the foundation we need to build upon, grow in, and succeed through. 1 Peter 2:6 speaks to Jesus being our solid rock, “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” Just as first impressions are incredibly important at one’s job or when meeting people, so are the faith practices we set-up when we are saved. Things like going to church, being water baptized, reading the Bible, applying our faith to everyday relationships, decisions, and activities, help to get us going and get us growing in Christ.
And like my senior year math class, finishing well is just as important to our faith journey. Many would recall people in the Bible who ended up falling short of their desired outcomes and God’s designed purpose for their lives: Moses fails to enter the promise land; Solomon’s many wives and riches becomes the source of his falling away from being fully devoted to the Lord; the Rich Young Ruler is unable to give up his wealth to follow Jesus. In John 6:66 we even see a whole group abandon their faith in Christ, “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” Whereas starting has to do with where we build our foundation, finishing has to do with where we place our focus. Finishing well is about keeping our hearts right, keeping our sights set on His hope, and letting the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen us no matter how hard life is. Proverbs 4:25-26 tells us, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”
The summer is here…let’s start this season off right by staying committed to the Lord, connected to one another, and concentrated on living a life of purpose!