>Finishing The New Year

>Finishing The New Year

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I’ve always enjoyed starting something new. Whether it’s a book or a garden or a vacation, the beginning is my favorite part. That’s when things are still fresh and exciting, where anticipation runs high and all your expectations are still reasonable. Beginning something is always easier than seeing it through to the end.

Posted by Doug Walker on December 31st, 2008

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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:1-3

I’ve always enjoyed starting something new. Whether it’s a book or a garden or a vacation, the beginning is my favorite part. That’s when things are still fresh and exciting, where anticipation runs high and all your expectations are still reasonable. The book will be Pulitzer material and captivate you throughout. The garden will yield a bounty of produce with no weeds or rabbits. The vacation, of course, will be a dream.

There are other reasons why I delight in beginnings. The most honest is this: If I’ve just started something, I haven’t had the opportunity to gum things up yet. I think this why I can play the opening lines of literally hundreds of songs on the guitar or piano. I am the master of introductions. I think it’s because the introductions are usually the parts that sizzle, and they’re what everyone remembers. The hard work is plowing through the verses and chorus, often a repetitious exercise that’s not nearly as fun as playing the intro.

But isn’t that life? Beginning something is always easier than seeing it through to the end. Whether it’s boredom or fatigue or just biting off more than we can chew, finishing anything these days is a challenge. It’s been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. That saying was probably intended for those who were paralyzed and afraid to make the first move. For me, the first step is a breeze; it’s the remaining 500,000 that give me so much trouble.

Starting is important, to be sure. But it’s finishing, and finishing well, that is most important. And it seems to be pretty important to God, too. The list of good finishers in Scripture is pretty impressive – Noah saw the ark to completion, Abraham left his home and made it to Canaan. Job endured trial, tragedy, sickness and loss, yet never gave up. God’s people did finish their journey to the promised land (although it was questionable that they would). Samuel finally found a king after a lot of searching (and wrong guessing). The Apostle Paul was relentless in quest to spread the gospel and start new churches. In fact, he was the one who said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)

We’re standing at the threshold of a brand new year – a time to start fresh. A time of beginning again. Tis the season for resolutions, so I would imagine many of you have set goals for this year. Instead of the same old promises to yourself, try something different this time. In lieu of simply making a resolution, picture yourself achieving it. Imagine yourself in light of its outcome, rather than just its beginning. Maybe even call it a new year’s destination and not a resolution.

This is not a silly exercise, because as Christians we should be doing the very same thing every day, only on a much grander scale. If we are followers of Christ, then we’ve already begun the journey. Our focus now is to finish well. So we look ahead to glory, imagining what it will be like with new bodies in a new heaven and a new earth. We envision the perfect, Edenic life and place ourselves right in the middle of it. This is what is promised to us. This is what gives us hope. And this is what causes us to live better now. To persevere, sacrifice, and love with abandon. Now there’s a new year’s resolution.

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