Finish Well

run with endurance

Never have I longed more for the slow days of summer. I am an early to rise kinda girl, but I certainly prefer a slow start to the day. I linger. Linger over a cup of coffee. Linger over a verse God brought me to. Linger over my sleeping man. Linger over baking muffins. I like to move slow and watch the world awake – it reminds me of Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (emphasis mine).

The last 18 months have been HARD. We moved from one busy season to the next with little time to catch our breaths, in the midst of learning to love each other better and mending our hearts after being hurt deeply by people we love. I graduated from grad school and took a full-time job. My husband started his third year of teaching and his first year of seminary (full-time). We moved into a house that is now filled with community and love on a regular basis. God led us to a new church which brought new opportunities and answers to prayers. I can look back and say God is good. He is so – so – faithful. But goodness…this season has been rough. As quick as I can be to proclaim God’s faithfulness, I can dig my heels in and yell “That’s it God – I’m done! I quit.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?  Maybe its financial. Or maybe you’ve been praying and fighting for restoration in a relationship. It could be a season of transition with no clear resolution in sight. Or maybe you are just weary. Weary from a season of littles clamoring for your attention. Weary from your job that is so far from what you want to be doing, you could cry. Weary from letting your precious babies leave the nest.

Press on towards the goal.
You can do this because God can do this.

Every season has a finish. And how we finish is important – renewed strength often awaits us at the finish line. In Romans, Paul assures us that our present sufferings produce endurance.

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love as been poured into our hears…” {Romans 5:3-5}

We throw our hands up in hard seasons. Not because we don’t want to finish well, but because we simply cannot see how we will. It’s fear. Fear of not measuring up, not being strong enough. And weariness – we get tired of trying. After pressing on and trying anyways, our plans still fail. But this is good even though it is hard. God’s ways are always higher than our own, and without him we can do nothing. The temptation to give up results in one of two things – we through our hands up and quit, or we throw our hands up and recognize our desperate need for the Lord’s help.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” {Isaiah 55:9}

“…apart from me, you can do nothing.” {John 15:5}

How desperately I need  my Savior. I need to draw away to a desolate place and be still and quiet – frequently – because its easy to get so consumed in the ‘busy’ that I forget I can’t do everything alone. I need God’s word for encouragement and for a true image of who I am – often – because I tend to look to others for gratification. I need Jesus’ example of unconditional love – always – because in my weariness I often treat those around me in ways that are less than loving.

It’s also tempting, be it stubbornness, pride, or a sence of accomplishment, to run and finish the race in a spirit of defeat. Instead of submitting to God’s grace we chose to continue fighting by ourselves. I tried in my first two and a half years of our marriage to run the race without God and without community. And I always felt defeated. As I surrender rebuilding trust and finding forgiveness to the Lord, he fills me with grace and peace so real, I can’t help but come back for more. Don’t run the rest of your race defeated. God’s strength is waiting for you so you can run with endurance.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” {Hebrews 12:1, emphasis mine}

In our feelings of defeat we forget each season we face has eternal significance. No matter how big or small, long or short, trying or tired, our circumstances have the opportunity to reflect heaven and eternal glory to those around us.

Finish well, friends. Run the race with endurance knowing that God’s purpose will prevail.

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” {Acts 20:24}

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