Preparing My Heart To Finish Well
“Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:17-18)
Recently, I was able to join in a celebration of a dear couple who have been in ministry for over thirty-two years. They have been faithful with the mission and calling the Lord has given them. Although I’ve only known them a little over a year, they have become dear to me so it was a fun time of reflecting and celebrating their service to the Church.
Throughout the celebration and the months leading up to it, I couldn’t help but think about what it takes to finish well, because the finish line is only a very small part of the entire race. Being mid-race, I’ve had my fair share of failures. I’ve quit, I’ve disqualified myself, I given up many times but I’ve also had seasons of running well and being faithful to the course before me. Through it all, I’ve realized that the only way to reach the finish line is to run well during the entire race, especially when it’s long and hard…
But what does this look like for 2014?
In thinking about preparing my heart with the end of the journey in mind, I couldn’t help but think about my life verse, as it is one I continuously come back to for strength when I need it and to refocus when I get distracted. It is found in Hebrews 12, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
These precious words come right on the heels of the Faith Hall of Fame, men and women celebrated for their unshakable faith... and so, in light of their examples, I believe these verses hold the key to finishing well.
Here Are the Lessons Learned…
You have to Throw Off What Hinders You
You cannot finish well carrying extra baggage simply because it will zap your strength, and you’ll need energy for the entire journey. So we are instructed to toss of what hinders and the sin that entangles so that we will be free and unhindered to continually move forward. This is where perseverance comes into play, because it is easy to pick those things up again and to get bogged down or off course. It takes perseverance and dedication to stay focused and on mission. If you run with the end in mind, then you are less likely to take detours along the way because you can see the finish line!
You have to Run Your Race
The men and women found in Hebrews 11 had success because they completed their life journey, not someone else's. Your job is to run your race with perseverance. This sounds overly simple, but so many times we get off course because of comparison or envy, however we are invited to participate in the course set out before us! God choose something special and unique for you alone, so run your race!
You have to Fix Your Eyes on Jesus
I have trained for many races and without a doubt, I always do my best when I have a training partner. They help me set goals, train and help to build excitement for race day. I especially find partners helpful during long grueling race because there is mutuality in running together for a common goal. Jesus is your running partner! Look to Him. Consider what He faced and overcame. This will not only encourage you, it will give you hope to endure anything you face!
You have Have to Have Heart to Finish Well
My epic fails in life were caused because I lost heart and gave up. So your heart is the number one thing you must protect with all diligence. Proverbs says it like this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). What this looks like in my own life is identifying the seeds of discouragement, unforgiveness, bitterness and the like and choosing to remove it from my thoughts before they have time to take root and grow. It is a choice, a hard choice but a necessary one to protect your heart. We first have to remove those seeds of discourse and replace them with the things that will nourish and benefit our heart and well being. You must protect your heart, you’ll need it to finish this journey!
These are my simple suggestions for preparing your heart to finish well, I pray that 2014 offers you a clean slate to try them out. May you find the strength and grace to run well until the very end!
Happy New Year!
Juli Camarin & JCBlog.net
I’d love to hear from you!
What are your New Year’s tips for preparing your heart to finish well in life?