I’ve heard it said before, “It’s not about how you start, but how you end that matters the most.” And I’m guilty as charged: I have many “beginnings” – but few “ends”.
I tend to be quick to commit to things, even things I know I won’t follow through with. If you looked through my bedroom, you’d come across an enormous stash of notebooks, each with only the first few pages filled in.
These notebooks are metaphors for the many things in my life I started but never completed.
So as the year winds to a close, I’m done with making careless commitments and failing to get past half of it. I’m done with the familiar regret of February. As someone who struggles to complete what I commit to, in 2018, I want to learn how to finish well.
I know what you’re thinking … I’m setting myself up for failure if this is just another impulsive resolution. But it really isn’t one. Instead, I’m challenging myself – and anyone else like me – to start the year right by ending it right.
I’m swapping out my New Year’s resolutions for year-end reflections.
FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
The end is as – if not more – important than the beginning. Some beginnings may not have been as smooth as we thought they would be. It could’ve be a new job, a new house, a new child, a new relationship or a new stage of life. You might’ve had a rocky start, maybe a whole rocky year – but the good news is, all is not lost!
Some have quoted, “Failure is not falling down, but failing to rise after you fall.”
Indeed, the journey might have been filled with craggy cliffs and steep climbs, but how does one grow without tribulations? Your marriage may be on the rocks, but how can you show unconditional love when all conditions are already met? Your work may be overwhelming, but what has it revealed about your true character?
Whether you are lying in the aftermath of a broken relationship, baffled in sorrow over the death of a loved one, or simply questioning the purpose of life – I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be faced with a horizon of confusion.
It’s natural to desperately seek answers to the “Why God, why?” circumstances of life. It’s human to wish for closure at the turn of yet another year. But consider this: Don’t put a full-stop where God has put a comma. Keep on keeping on.
KEEPING THE FAITH
I am unashamed to say that I am a movie nerd. Whenever I watch a movie, I tend to analyse everything: How it dramatically builds up, how it sustains attention, how the plot twists and turns, and what lessons can be learned from it.
You’ve probably seen this story arc before: The bringer of deliverance swoops in at the very last fraction of a second and saves the party in distress from the villain.
One of the top dramatic stories of the Bible lies in 2 Kings 18-19:
King Hezekiah was the king of Judah from 715 to 686 B.C. 10 years into his kingship, the Assyrian king Sennacherib attacked the land of Judah, and soon, only the city of Jerusalem was left.
A panicked Hezekiah was torn between surrendering to the Assyrians and trusting in God, as the prophet Isaiah was persuading him to. Spoiler alert: Hezekiah decides to trust God, and God destroys the Assyrian army in the blink of an eye.
Does your life feel ravished by an invading force, like the land of Judah? Has everything you used to believe so strongly in been brought to dust?
Do you sit among the debris shaking your fists toward heaven, or does your heart cry out, “I need a miracle”?
We all know how the plot can twist in your favour.
Like King Hezekiah, will you seize the hope of a deliverer by trusting in the Almighty God?
Trust in the God who can change the unchangeable. He is more than able to turn your deepest darkest despair into an indestructible joy – if you will let Him.
FINISHING THE RACE
God is not just interested in being a solution in life. He is interested in every aspect of it, at every stage of it. That’s why Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). And in some versions of the Bible, the finisher of our faith.
He is not just the beginning of our salvation. He is also the journey and the destination – the Alpha and the Omega.
My God is a finishing God, and He desires for us to finish well despite the long and arduous journey of life, the end of which we cannot see or fathom. Even if you struggle to fight on or keep the faith when the going gets really rough, He reminds us that His grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9). He will sustain us step by step with His strength.
My God is a finishing God, and He desires for us to finish well despite the long and arduous journey of life.
I’ve seen that only God has the power to help me go on even when I’m afraid. I know that it is only by the grace of God that I’ve resolved many issues that I was struggling with for a long time. He is more than able to help each and every one of us if we are willing to let Him.
The knee-jerk reaction to pain and problems is usually escape. We’d rather skip the journey altogether instead of dealing with its messy middle. Unfortunately, we often find regret waiting for us after a few steps.
So, before we pick up our pens to write our New Year’s resolutions, eager to flip past the unfinished business of the year before, let’s look back and reflect on the resolutions God has been leading us to through the journey we’ve been on.