I am turning 40 this year. Thankfully, I am not going through a midlife crisis, but I am becoming more aware that my time to live a meaningful life, one that honors Christ, is decreasing. There are no dress rehearsals for those who breathe. Do we really believe that living begins once we hit some perceived milestone, as if we are on the sidelines waiting to jump in? This is it, really! Our time has begun, and we are on our way to the finish line. The choices that we make along the journey will determine whether or not we finish well.
What exactly is FINISHING WELL?
The Bible defines the term, “So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” –Colossians 1:10-14
We finish our lives WELL if we have: 1. Accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior 2. Impacted our families for Christ 3. Impacted our world for Christ….
The immediate qualifier is that we FINISH WELL as Christians, saved by Jesus for eternal life. However, if this was God’s only prerequisite for finishing well, our race would have ended upon salvation. Instead, we are left in the race NOW fully equipped for the race. God loves people, and He doesn’t want anyone missing from the party at the end. It’s our job to give them directions.
Secondly, we FINISH WELL bearing fruit in our families. God desires that we make an eternal impact on those running with us, the ones who share our street address. They eat our food, sleep in our houses, and rely on us for wisdom throughout our entire lives –our children. The influence that we make for Christ in our children is the relay baton that we pass into their future. Regardless of how we received our batons, we can choose to pass ours with grace. Please notice the instructions from a baton-passing manual, “Hand-offs are especially important in sprint relays, where fractions of a second will win or lose a race, and “blind hand-offs” can be extremely difficult without practice, so make sure you know what you’re doing!”
After our families, we FINISH WELL bearing fruit in our world. We lead runners to the cross with our God-inspired talents (birth-given) and gifts (salvation-given). Mark 11:12-14 illustrates this point, “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.”
Friend, the fig tree represents us, and its leaves are indicators of our equipped-talents placed inside our spirit. If we are Christians, we have “leaves.” If we have leaves, then we are equipped to produce fruit, evidence of God in our lives through our talents and gifts–our passions. Please notice that “it was not the season for figs.” With Christ, it does not matter which season, age, career we are in, we are still capable and expected to produce fruit exactly where we are. God overrides the so-called disqualifiers of our season. In other words, God through us can produce great fruit in the midst of a rebellious child, a stressful career, an estranged marriage, a dying family member. In our inconveniences, God is still capable and willing to work if we just let Him. Jesus is a gentleman, and he waits for us to choose Him over our circumstances.
We finish well as Christians who consistently bear fruit in our families first, and then our world!
Along the journey to finishing well, there are 7 Essentials for a Successful Race— We must….
1. Know WHOSE We Are that we may know WHO We Are!
2. Define our Priorities Before the World Does!
3. Burn our Boats!
4. Say “No” to the Good & “Yes” to the Best!
5. Lose a Battle to Win the War!
6. Intentionally Pursue Success!
7. Recognize Pitfalls Along the Way!
Friend, if yesterday was your last, would you have finished well? If not, you still have today! Can you look ahead and see your children carrying your baton to their finish line? Can you look behind and forgive those who dropped it ? More importantly, can you look above and trust the One who redeems it?