As our pastor spoke of finishing well I wondered how often we are akin to Paul, the focus of Pastor Chuck’s sermon. Paul was not always faithful to God. Paul criticized God and mocked Him. But then! He came to know God and was a faithful and loyal teacher of His words and life. As Pastor Chuck shared of Paul’s final days of life, Paul was concerned about his friends, not himself. As Paul walked to his death, alone and naked preparing to be beheaded, he had no regrets. God was walking with him. Paul was “finishing well.”
Did we stumble and fall along the way? Whether our finish is with a family, marriage, career or any interest we may have, did we finish well? Did we give our best efforts to the conclusion? Were we concerned about those we might have offended or emotionally hurt? I was recently visiting with a friend that shared how anger and hatred had been removed from previous relationships; that the “hatchet” was buried and forgiveness was paramount. Hurt feelings had been put aside so they could enjoy one another, making memories and “finishing well.”
Has a friend or family sought your forgiveness, but you not only refused their request, you don’t even have the courtesy to acknowledge them? Were you terminated from a career position and you have remained bitter and angry? Did you enter a sports competition or race and were not the victor, but you carry a grudge against those that won? You were unable to “finish well.”
Finishing well doesn’t mean winning. It doesn’t always mean we receive our desired outcome. How did we accept the conclusion? Can we smile when our hearts are breaking? Can we be kind to others that treated us rudely? Can we be courteous to the colleague that was promoted when we believed it should have been us?
I wasn’t always so accepting of God’s plans for my life. I was jealous and envious of others that seemed to “have it all” while I struggled with the basic needs of life. As a teen, I often wondered why my classmates had parents that supported, cherished and accepted them. Yet, I had parents who more readily criticized than accepted.
When I graduated from high school and entered college, I envied those that didn’t have to work multiple jobs to pay for their college expenses. As a new bride, I wondered why I didn’t a husband that spent time with me, loved me and gave the attention as my friends had from their husbands. If I had grasped those early jealousies, I would never have been able to come to the latter chapter of my life, preparing to “finish well.”
Life has been arduous and brought many unexpected elements, but like Paul, I have no regrets I’ve followed God and trusted His ways. NKJ, 2 Timothy 4:7,” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”