The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Eccl. 7:8
Beginning strong is easy. It is one reason we all look forward to a new year on the calendar. It is a fresh start, a new beginning. A do-over, so to speak. But what about finishing strong? It can prove to be more of a challenge, especially if you have faced many delays and disappointments along the way.
As this year ends, I hear many talking about the things they didn’t see happen this year. It seems many had perceived promises that they expected to see. However, the year didn’t bring everything they hoped it would. That can be discouraging indeed.
Consequently, as we know, God doesn’t work on our calendar. He is faithful and true. His promises are faithful and true. Everything He has vowed and promised us will come to pass, as we remain in faith.
Hebrews 3:14 says it this way; For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.
Our part; Hold our confidence…steadfast to the end.
How do we do that? How do we remain steadfast in our faith?
In the Christian life, we are not sprinters…but marathoners. Although both require hard work, there are vast differences in what it takes to excel. Sprinters train for a short, quick, burst of energy. This reminds me of a shooting star.
We have seen some of these in the Body of Christ. A new minister will come on the scene and shine brightly for a moment and then you don’t hear of them any longer. Why? They did not train as a marathoner, but a sprinter. They had a short, quick burst of fame and then they were gone.
To hold our confidence steadfast to the end, first, our foundation must be strong. For a strong foundation, we must train differently.
Long distance runners train differently.
They learn how to conserve energy. They learn to deal with the highs and lows of the race. They train themselves to keep their eyes on the finish line. They do not allow themselves to be distracted by anything or anyone around them.
Philippians 3:13-14 says, Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid 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 of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.
Preparing for a marathon is much like preparing to finish the year strong in God. Longevity takes a strong foundation. It takes flexibility. It takes a willingness to adapt. Life seldom goes according to plan; therefore, we must learn to adjust and move on.
What then is the key to finishing strong? Endurance.
The apostle Paul wrote, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Tim. 4:7
He wasn’t boasting. He was merely saying he had run the race with endurance and remained steadfast to the end.
Every Christian has a destiny, a course God has for them. It may be full-time ministry, accounting, farming, or it may be to be the best Mom you can be. Whatever your course, we are all called to begin and finish well.
Paul knew what it took to finish well. He wrote, But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Cor. 9:27
This means we walk the walk. We do not just talk the talk. Paul lived what he preached, as should we.
1 John 2:6-7 says, But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.
In life, we will cross many finish lines, but we never really finish the race until we stand before God. Until then, we must continue to fight the good fight. To keep the faith. To hold our confidence steadfast to the end.
We must run our race daily, with endurance. In doing that, we will finish this year and every other year, strong in God.