Start to Finish

       I’m not a runner. I tried earlier this year, but it’s just not my “thing,” you know what I mean? I’d like to say it’s because I have bad knees or an aching back or something, but really, it’s just because I’d rather read or do something (anything) less physically demanding. That’s awful, isn’t it? However, the sport does provide some significant parallels for the Christian’s spiritual walk. Paul uses the running analogy many times in his letters.
       I’ve learned – from my extensive running habits (*cough, cough*) – that there is significance in merely finishing the race. It provides a sense of accomplishment at the very least. We’ve probably all heard the Derek Redmond story from the 1992 Olympics. He tore something while running, and his dad met him on the track to help him finish the race. If you haven’t heard the story, look it up sometime. It’s very inspiring.

       In any case, when we start something, the goal is to finish it. There are those of us who sometimes get half way through a project and never complete it… but that is probably not the plan from the beginning. Most commonly, when we start a task, we have an end product in mind.

       Christian, do you know that this is exactly how God sees you? He has begun something amazing in you. He has been molding and shaping you. Guiding and directing you. Providentially acting on your behalf. And the day He started this work, He had an end in mind.

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 
– Philippians 1:6
       You’ve heard this verse before, no doubt. But have you really thought about what it means? Recently, this verse has been my life support. There are times when I look at where I am and think, “Where am I going?” There are other times when I look at where I am and think, “How did I get here?” Not that where I am is bad or undesirable. It is my pleasure to serve the Lord faithfully wherever I am and in whatever stage of life I find myself. 
       But, like everyone else, there are times when I wonder why exactly God chose to call me “out of darkness and into His marvelous light.” What am I worth? Why me? Is this where I’m supposed to be? Am I in the center of Your will for my life, God? Or am I missing something? 
       Then I’m reminded that it was not I who started this race. It was God. The race I’m running is God’s race. He is the one who started it, and He is the one who will finish it. That gives me incredible comfort. On my own, I tend to fall down, ease into the lane next to me, tear a ligament, or sometimes even run the wrong way on the track! But when God is the one running the race… when He is in charge… when I allow Him to run the race He started in me, things seem to make a lot more sense. 
       I can’t pretend to have any of the answers. And the simple thought that this is God’s race doesn’t exempt me from feeling uneasy or eager at times. You know how it is when you’re reading a good book; every chapter you read fills you with anticipation for the next. When I allow God to carry out the work He has begun in me, His plans always leave me excited and curious about the next chapter. 
       Paul was confident that God, who began the good work in the church at Philippi – as well as in the Christians who formed it – would carry on to completion that which He had started. You know what that tells me? God has a finished product in mind for me. When He began His work in me, He did so with a picture of the finalized result in His head. He knows how my race will finish. So who better to let run it than Him?
       Every step of this race leads me progressively closer to that final product… that day when Jesus Christ will greet me at the feet of my Heavenly Father… that day when the race of my life will have been run, and when I will desire nothing more than to hear those words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” What a glorious day that will be.
I trust that God’s plan was not to run my race halfway through and then give up on me. 
I trust that He desires more for me than stagnation or complacency. 
I trust that what He has started in me, He will finish.

What about you? 
Grace and Peace,
Tony