I believe New Year greetings are in order! Happy 2016!
My hope is that wherever you're reading this from, you are feeling refreshed and excited for the year ahead; having enjoyed some time out with family and friends over the holiday period.
It may seem odd that I'm writing an article titled 'finishing' at the start of a new year; but this thought has been on my heart for weeks now.
Personally, I am a great starter! I get excited by the new gadget, the new television show, the new app, the hottest new best-seller in paperback or audio. However, I am not that great at finishing: I've got half a dozen books half-read and easily give up on the shiny new gadget when the hype is over.
I recently found my FitBit sitting at the bottom of a drawer I decided to clean out on the holiday break and found myself reminiscing about all the goals I kicked in 2014 but had totally forgotten about!
Remembering the past, focusing on the future
Philippians chapter 3, verses 12-16 say,
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Or another translation (The Message) puts it like this:
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it.
Both versions highlight the need to be thankful for the past but to focus on the present and future!
Not just starting but, more importantly, how you finish matters. Not just finishing for the sake of finishing; but to finish strong and well.
Too often I find that at the start of a year (whether literally on 1 January or figuratively on a birthday) we take time to write goals, set resolutions, and think about areas in our lives where we can start afresh. However, finishing a season well requires just as much focus, attention and thought.
In Genesis we read the faithful stories of key leaders recorded—not just because they started something courageous—because they trusted in God to help them finish strong.
Take Abraham, noted as the Father of Nations. He finished his season having faith that God would give him a son and, even when tested, he chose to be obedient to God.
Take Esther, or shall I say Queen Esther, who finished her six months of preparation to be selected to be a queen—preparing her to play her part to save the Jewish people.
Or take Jesus, the ultimate finisher. In John chapter 19, verse 30 it says, 'When he has received the drink, Jesus said "it is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.' Jesus' last words confirm our debts are paid in full—from the Greek word tetekestai—and show that what God starts he will finish.
In Philippians chapter 1, verses 5–6 (The Message translation) it says, 'There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.'
This year, I pray that I don't just write down and focus on half a dozen new goals but rather focus this year on finishing what I start; and for this to be the tempo of my life for years to come.
Meenal Chandra is a Sydney-based writer who intends to finish strong.
Meenal Chandra's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/meenal-chandra.html