I love the Olympics. This past weekend as my husband, and I sat watching the qualification games for speed skating. I was struck by something as I watched the skaters burst out from the starting line.
It isn’t enough to start well, you have to finish well.
I watch race after race, as the one who started out quick, was passed toward the end by one who seem to be at the end of the pack. This one had begun well, but failed to end well.
Then there were those amazing few who not only began well, but finished well also. They were the first out, they maintained their spot and their speed, and finished the winner.
As I contemplated this, I was reminded of what Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).” He fought hard, he finished the race, and kept the faith. He never quit.
You may ask as I did, how did he do this? This answer is also found in the Bible. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
The way Paul finished his race was by getting rid of things that weighed him down, getting rid of sins that entangled him, causing him to fall. Then he ran with perseverance, meaning he didn’t just run, he ran to win. He continued to run, even when he wanted to quit, even when he felt like giving up. He ran with his eyes fixed on Jesus, fixed on the finish line, considering all Jesus had endured, so that he might not give up.
The speed skaters much the same, must not only begin well, but persevere through their race despite the pain, despite how weary they get. They fix their eyes on the finish line, and the prize set before them.
Far too often these days I hear of those in the ministry who have fallen to sin. Pastors who fall into adultery and pornography. Ministers whose marriages and families are falling apart. It is more common than not these days. And I never fail to be shocked, never fail to wonder, how they could let this happen.
But as I watched the speed skaters, and considered Paul’s words, I realized how simple it truly is. How easy it is to start well, but not to finish well. How easy it is to lack perseverance in the Christian walk. How quickly people can become weary and lose heart. If in fact they have allowed themselves to be entangled by the things of this world. If they have allowed themselves to excuse sin and compromise on the small things. If they have taken their eyes off of the one they served, and placed them upon themselves.
The race set before us takes endurance, it takes hard work and stamina. This Christian walk takes eyes fixed upon Jesus. It requires one unwilling to compromise, unwilling to get caught up in the things of this world.
It is tough, no doubt. For I’m sure there are days we all want to quit, days we all would like to give up. Yet, we must keep our eyes fixed on the prize. We must set our hearts and minds on the things of God. Only then, can we endure to the end, and finish the race.
What has God called you to? Whatever it is, finish well. Run the race He has for you… keep your eyes fixed on Him.
Friend, it is not enough to start well, the true winner, both starts and finishes well.