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  • Writer's pictureDr Dagbue

The Art of Finishing Well: A Christian Perspective on Perseverance


Picture of a lady standing in front of a finish line with both arms raised up in victory, with the caption the art of finishing well


Welcome to the Health for the Spirit, Soul, and Body blog. Today, we’re going to talk about a topic that’s close to my heart: finishing well.

The Challenge of Finishing What We Start

Embarking on a new project or goal is often filled with excitement and optimism. The initial stages are marked by a surge of enthusiasm, as the possibilities seem boundless, and our energy is at its peak. However, as we go on, the initial gloss begins to fade. We encounter obstacles, face unexpected challenges, and the once interesting project loses some of its initial appeal.

As we approach the end of the first month of the year, it’s a good time to reflect on the resolutions and goals we set for ourselves. How many have we seen through to completion? How many are we still actively pursuing? It’s  time to remind ourselves of the wisdom found in Ecclesiastes 7:8 (KJV): “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

The true measure of success in any endeavour lies in our ability to overcome the hurdles and maintain our commitment till the end. As we assess our progress, let’s not be discouraged by the unfinished or the incomplete. Instead, let’s rekindle our determination, realign our focus, and strive to finish well, for it is in the completion of our tasks that true fulfillment lies. 

 

Life as a Marathon: Lessons from Long-Distance Running

One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned about perseverance and the importance of finishing well comes from watching Olympic long-distance runners. In a particularly memorable race, around 10 to 15 athletes competed in a gruelling 25-lap event. As the race commenced, most runners maintained a group formation, conserving energy and setting a steady pace. However, one runner broke away from the pack, accelerating at an impressive but unsustainable speed. He managed to lap the other runners twice, creating a significant lead.

As I watched, perched on the edge of my seat, the thought that this runner might actually finish first was exhilarating. It seemed he was redefining the very concept of endurance. Yet, as the race neared its conclusion, with just three laps remaining, the reality of his overexertion became apparent. His pace faltered dramatically. Meanwhile, those who had maintained a consistent, slower speed began to accelerate. They overtook him, and he finished near the end of the pack.

This race serves as a powerful reminder for life and our spiritual journey. It’s not about how quickly we start or the speed at which we progress, but rather how we pace ourselves to endure until the end. Just like in a marathon, in life, and in our faith, the key is to maintain a steady, sustainable pace, allowing us to complete what we’ve started. This principle echoes the biblical exhortation to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV), focusing on the long-term journey rather than short-lived bursts of speed or progress.

Biblical Examples of Finishing Well

The Story of the Man of God from Judah (1 Kings 13:1-2)

In the Bible, we find a compelling narrative in 1 Kings 13 about a man of God from Judah. While his name isn’t mentioned, his actions speak volumes. The passage begins, “And behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of God unto Bethel. And Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar in the word of God, and said, ‘O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord, Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name. And upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.”

This story is fascinating for many reasons. The man of God from Judah, acting on divine prophecy, announced a sign. When King Jeroboam tried to seize him, he was struck with leprosy, which was only healed after he pleaded for mercy. Despite the king’s attempt to reward him for his prophecy and the healing, the man of God refused, committed to following God’s instructions.

However, his journey took a tragic turn. Deceived by another prophet, he disobeyed God’s command. Although he had successfully delivered his message, he failed to complete his divine assignment as instructed. As detailed in the latter part of 1 Kings 13, his failure to adhere strictly to God’s word resulted in him not returning home safely.

This narrative has always been a powerful lesson for me in the importance of unwavering obedience to God’s word. It serves as a stark reminder that, while we may fulfill part of our God-given mission, our journey is not truly successful unless we follow through to the very end, adhering faithfully to God’s instructions.

 

The Rise and Fall of King Saul (1 Samuel 3-31)

The biblical account of King Saul, found in 1 Samuel chapters 3 through 31, is a tale of potential, failure, and a stark lesson on the importance of obedience. Saul’s story begins with a man burdened by low self-esteem, someone who never aspired to greatness. Yet, it was this humble figure whom God chose to be king.

Saul’s journey is marked by initial success but ultimately leads to tragedy. Despite his anointment by God, Saul’s reign took a downturn because of his failure to follow God’s directives. His inability to align his actions with God’s commands led to his rejection by God. This rejection was not just personal but had far-reaching consequences. Saul’s failure to complete the assignment given to him by God resulted in the kingship being taken from his lineage and bestowed upon David and his descendants.

The story of Saul is a reminder that being chosen by God is a privilege that comes with the responsibility to adhere to His guidance. It teaches us that finishing well is not just about starting strong or having moments of success, but about maintaining steadfast obedience and alignment with God’s will throughout our journey.

 

The Triumph of Apostle Paul: Finishing Well Against All Odds

Apostle Paul’s life is a remarkable example of perseverance and finishing well in the Christian faith. His journey, as documented in the New Testament, is one of radical transformation and unwavering dedication. Originally a persecutor of Christians, Paul’s encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus changed his life’s trajectory completely.

Despite facing numerous challenges, including imprisonment, beatings, and constant opposition, Paul remained steadfast in his mission. His commitment to spreading the Gospel never wavered, exemplifying what it means to stay true to one’s calling, regardless of the hardships faced. In his own words, he declared, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7, KJV).

Paul’s journey teaches us that starting poorly does not dictate our finish. It’s the persistence, faith, and unwavering commitment to God’s calling that define our journey’s end. Paul’s life is a vivid illustration that regardless of our past or the obstacles we face, it is possible to finish well, with faith and grace.

 

Job: The Epitome of Perseverance and Unwavering Faith

The story of Job, as detailed in the Book of Job, stands as a powerful testament to the virtues of perseverance and unwavering faith in the face of overwhelming adversity. Job, a man of great wealth and piety, experienced catastrophic losses, including his health, wealth, and children. Despite these immense trials and the discouragement from those around him, Job’s faith in God remained unshaken.

His story is one of enduring faithfulness amidst unbearable suffering. Job’s steadfastness, even when he did not understand the reasons for his suffering, is a profound lesson in trusting God’s sovereignty. In recognition of his unwavering faith, God restored Job’s fortunes, blessing him more in the latter part of his life than in the beginning, as stated in Job 42:12-13 (KJV).

Job’s journey teaches us about the depth and resilience of faith. It reminds us that true perseverance is not merely enduring hardships but maintaining faith in God through the trials. Job’s story encouragesus as believers that, even when all seems lost, staying faithful can lead to greater blessings and restoration.

 

The Importance of Finishing Well

In the journey of faith, the true measure of success lies not in how we begin, but in how we end. This principle holds true for every endeavour in life, be it a personal goal, a professional project, or a spiritual journey. As believers, it is crucial to seek the Lord’s guidance before embarking on any venture. By putting God first in our plans, as advised in Matthew 6:33 (KJV), we align our efforts with His will, setting a firm foundation for success.

It is equally important to remember that great achievements often have humble beginnings. The Bible encourages us not to “despise the days of small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10). These early stages, though they may seem insignificant, are foundational to the journey ahead. They are opportunities for growth, learning, and reliance on God’s guidance.

As we progress, our focus should remain steadfast on the ultimate goal. Hebrews 12:2 (KJV) reminds us to fix our eyes on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith.” He is our perfect example of one who completed His earthly mission with unwavering obedience and endurance. In emulating Christ, we learn to navigate our paths with perseverance, keeping our eyes on the eternal prize, rather than the transient challenges that come our way.

 

Conclusion: The Essence of Finishing Well

 

In essence, finishing well in our spiritual journey and life’s endeavours requires a blend of divine guidance, humble beginnings, persistent effort, and a constant focus on Jesus. It is a journey not defined solely by our achievements but significantly by the faith and resilience we display along the way. Our ability to endure, to remain steadfast in faith through various trials, and to continually seek God’s guidance is what truly epitomizes a successful journey.

 

Embrace the Journey

My own life was profoundly transformed when I learned the importance of finishing well in everything I do, even when circumstances don’t align with my expectations. I extend this encouragement to you as well. Strive to finish the race of life well. If you haven’t begun this journey, remember, the first and most crucial step is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This initial step opens the path to a life marked by divine purpose and guidance.

Let us commit to finishing well. Let’s run this race with endurance, keeping our eyes steadfastly fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Until we meet again, God bless you.

I invite you to share your own experiences or thoughts in the comments below. Have you faced challenges in finishing what you started? How has your faith guided you in these moments? Your stories and insights could be a source of encouragement and inspiration to others. Let’s connect and strengthen each other in our faith journeys. God bless and keep you all in His care.

 

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