By Sharon Lee Song
Have you ever had “senior-itis” before? Many of you may remember the feeling of seeing and knowing that the end is in sight, and surprisingly how difficult it feels to stay focused, much less finish well.
We all know the feelings that come with finishing out a season like school, or a big project, or a job. We are so ready to be done that maybe everything about finishing out that season feels abhorrent, and the tolerance level for the simplest tasks related to that is very, very low.
Why is finishing well such a challenge? Why does it matter whether or not we finish well? Usually when we are about to enter into a new season of life, it’s because we are ready to, maybe even more than ready to. In our eagerness, impatience, and maybe even fatigue to be done with the previous season, there is the temptation to just skim by and complete our tasks and responsibilities on a superficial level, to do just enough to get by and have it be adequate. There are those that don’t even do this because motivation is so low, that things are left completely undone. Finishing well requires focus, commitment, patience, and perseverance, and these qualities are cultivated through discipline and practice, and produce character and integrity which are critical to living well in a world full of adversity.
Scripture has much to say about finishing well (Hebrews 11 and 12, and Romans 5). The apostle Paul tells us that we are not alone in this task of finishing well, and he provides a very thorough and comprehensive reminder of notable people of God that came before us, and how they finished well through extreme adversity and challenges through remarkable faith. They trusted God even if they didn’t receive what was promised! Paul likens this to running a race with endurance with all of these cheerleaders supporting us that have finished the race already. And not only that, he exhorts us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul goes further to encourage us to “consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint hearted” (Romans 12:3). To paraphrase, think about, meditate on how Jesus went through the worst kind of hostility or opposition so that you won’t give up. Jesus was the ultimate model of what it means to finish well.
From a very young age, I have felt that God gave me a strong conviction to finish what I start, and to finish well. However, every time I finished school, or employment somewhere, I found that it really took every fiber of what I could muster with His help to finish well. This meant being thorough, to cover all of the bases, even to leave things better than before, and more importantly, with a heart of service and a good attitude. I find myself in the throes of this charge to finish well yet again in my life currently as I move forward in faith to another employment opportunity, and to be frank, it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, I would say that as I have gotten older, and moved forward with my vocational calling, it has become more challenging along the way. It would be so much easier to just get by, and sometimes I feel that is all of the energy that I have to put forth anyway! Yet, I remember and with grace and help, have cultivated, the fruit of finishing well from past experiences and know that it is all for the sake of disciplining me with love as His child, made in and being conformed to His image, and ultimately to be of greater service to others for the next season.
How are you being challenged to finish well where you are right now? The reminders of the saints that have gone before me and their faith, but especially perspective about Jesus setting His eyes to the cross help me tremendously. It’s appropriate in this Lenten season to reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross and what He endured for the sake of love. Jesus finished well, all for our sake. I would offer that a practice such as meditating on the image of Jesus as a way of keeping our eyes fixed on Him, like walking the Stations of the Cross, can be a powerful visual reminder to us and allows us to walk with Him so we do not feel that we are alone in this, and the burden of finishing well is only ours to bear.
Lord Jesus, just as you finished well, help us to do so as well with your strength, endurance and hope. As we remember your last words on the cross, “It is finished,” help us to know deep in our hearts the power of the completion of your work and how we are called to imitate you in the work you have given us. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you, author and perfecter of our faith. Amen.
Sharon Lee Song lives and works in South Los Angeles with an urban ministry community. Inspired by her own transformation through self-care and soul care, Sharon became a certified personal trainer, Holy Yoga instructor, and spiritual director. She’s committed to using what she’s learned from her training to support others in living healthy, sustainable, urban spiritual lives.