Dear Sister, Let’s Finish Well

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I remember as a kid, standing along the side of the road near the finish line of yet another 10K race in which my dad and brother were competing.

It was a nail-biter each time.

Suddenly, as if out of a haze, I’d see them appear in the crowd of runners…

Their easy pace quickly picking up speed and intensity as they neared the finish line…

and like a blaze of glory, they’d cross the finish line, arms in the air, panting heavily, but with giant grins on their faces.

They knew they’d finished well.

Woman in coral athletic wear finishing first in a race

I have been walking with Jesus for nearly 43 years.

I have often witnessed new believers start their walk with Jesus like a blaze of glory.

They’re at church any time the doors are open.
They volunteer any time there’s a need.
They’re at the altar at the end of every service.

Until, one day they burn out. And as quickly as they burst into a flame, they fizzle out and are gone.

It doesn’t always happen that way, but it does often enough for us to remember a fundamental lesson.

How you finish is as important as how you begin.

As we wrap up the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we have watched as God’s people returned to Jerusalem to build the temple under the guidance of Ezra.

It wasn’t easy.

They were met with continual resistance, discouragement, hardship, and even persecution.

But by the end of the book of Ezra, the temple was built and worship had been restored.

We watched again as Nehemiah grieved over the state of the city of Jerusalem.

The city was left exposed and vulnerable with no walls for protection.

So, once again, the people rolled up their sleeves and began to build.

It wasn’t easy.

They were met with continual resistance, discouragement, hardship, and even persecution.

But by the end of the book of Nehemiah, the walls were built, and more people returned to the holy city – the Promised Land God had given them so many centuries ago!

People began to relocate to outlying areas so that more of the land was being populated.

And it only took a decade for the people of God to flounder in their covenant with Him.

They began in a blaze of glory but fizzled out at the end.

God sent Malachi, the final prophet in the Old Testament period to call them back to repentance.

And then went silent for 400 years.

Dear sister, how you finish is as important as how you begin.

We cannot afford to allow this world and all of its toys and noise to distract us in this race.

We cannot afford to allow hardships and trials to tempt us to “take a break” or “stop and catch our breath”.

Every runner knows that during a race you’ll hit a wall.

It’s a wall of pain and fatigue and your body screams at you to stop. Catch your breath. Rest for a bit.

But you’re body is lying to you. If you stop, catch your breath, and rest for a bit, you’ll never finish.

Instead, you choose to pace yourself and press through that wall because, on the other side, you’ll discover a euphoria, a burst of energy that will carry you to the finish line.

It’s no coincidence that Paul compares the Christian walk with a race.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

As we run the race of this Christian life, we will inevitably hit a wall of pain and fatigue.

Our emotions will lie and tell us we need to stop, take a break, and catch our breath.

We’ll feel like we can’t go on.

We must not listen to the voice of our emotions. We must listen to the truth of God’s Word.

It is in these times that if we get alone with Jesus and draw on His Word and His presence, we will find the strength to press through the wall.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, it is this.

Start well.

Draw on the strength of Christ, because battles will come.

“Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” 2 Timothy 2:3

Do not give up. Do not take a break to catch your breath, but press through the wall of pain and fatigue.

Keep running.

Finish well.


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