Finish: 1.To bring a task or activity to an end. 2.To complete something. 3.To conclude, close, terminate or end. 4.To arrive at or attain the end of something, such as finishing a race.
“Let us be full of joy and be happy with the troubles we have. Let us exalt and triumph and rejoice in our sufferings. Let us be glad when we run into problems and trials. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these things make us more patient. They help us learn not to give up and quit. We know that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patience, perseverance and unswerving endurance. Endurance and fortitude develops maturity and integrity and strength of character. And this sort of character produces joy and gives us a confident hope of eternal salvation. When we have learned not to quit, it shows we have stood the test. And proof of this is that we are strong.“ (Romans 5:3-4)
I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world who has started something and not finished it. I could start a list right now of all the things I’ve started over the years that have been left unfinished. All the projects I’ve thrown myself into, only to give up soon after. The problem is, if I started making a list, I’d probably get half-way through and get distracted and not finish writing it!!!
I absolutely LOVE starting new things. I love to start reading new books. I love to watch the first episode of a new TV series. I love the challenge of new beginnings. I love new jobs. I love new friendships. I love new music. I love getting things started. But I’m so bad at finishing. I’ve got dozens of books that I haven’t finished. I’ve never watched a TV series for longer than a few episodes. I’ve started diets and not finished them (ok, so everyone has done that!). I’ve started craft projects that have taken up space in my house for months that have been left uncompleted. I’ve got friendships that have turned into acquaintances. I’ve even got a half-written novel on my computer somewhere!
I am good at starting things, but I struggle to finish them. I don’t have trouble with getting started. I have trouble persevering. Whether it’s persevering through the rain and choosing to go running. Whether it’s persevering and choosing fruit over chocolate (seriously, do I have to?). Whenever it comes to persevering…well, let’s just say I’m not always good at finishing what I start. I’m not good with sticking with things. And I don’t think I’m alone with these struggles. After all, if I was the only person who had ever started a diet on Monday morning and had broken the same diet by lunchtime on the same Monday, then Michelle Bridges would be out of a job and millions of people wouldn’t tune in to watch The Biggest Loser TV show.
I remember once when the renovating bug hit me and I decided to repaint the walls of our family room. Surprisingly, I actually finished painting the family room but then I decided to paint the kids bathroom with the leftover paint. Unfortunately, I ran out of paint (ok, truthfully I ran out of interest), but rather than go and buy more paint, I just put down my paintbrushes and didn’t finish the job. Not only did I ruin all the paintbrushes, (of course I didn’t bother properly finishing and cleaning the brushes and storing them correctly) the bathroom was left unfinished. For six months. And then I had to pay someone to come and finish it for me.
I am great at starting things, and really bad at persevering and completing things.
The funny thing is this: if you met me, you would not not describe me as a quitter! I’m often known for my passion and tenacity and persistence but what I’ve realised is that I get started on something and rather than stick with it, I find something that looks newer or more ‘shiny’ and I get distracted and bored so I move onto the next thing – without finishing what I started. And it becomes a vicious cycle. I remember reading (part of) a book by Glynnis Whitwer and she says if I don’t finish what I start, it will result in “circles of unfulfilled commitments, open loops and shallow relationships” and that’s not good for anyone.
One thing has become clear to me during the study of Lysa TerKeurst’s book What happens when women say ‘yes’ to God and that is this: I have to be passionate about what I start doing in order to finish it. Before I say “yes to God” and start something new, I need to ask myself if I’m so passionate about this new thing I’m about to start that I’m willing to pay the cost and do whatever it takes to stick with it, persevere and finish strong.
Perhaps one of the reasons I don’t stick with things through to the finish is that I don’t have the necessary attitude of excellence that says I will persevere until the end. Instead, I adopt an “it’s good enough” attitude. I tell myself that if I don’t finish what I start “It’s okay. It’s fine. It’s good enough. It. Will. Do.”
But God is not an “it will do” kind of God! He is a God of excellence. He doesn’t want me to settle and live a life of mediocrity and half-finished things. He doesn’t want me to quit. He wants me to finish what I start. He wants me to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He wants me to stick with it. To persevere: To continue in a state of grace that will lead to a state of glory.
So my goal (not just for this study, but for life) is to persevere and finish things well. I want to be like Timothy and get to the end of something I started and say: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. I’ve run hard right to the finish line. (2 Timothy 4:7).
When I have learned to persevere and not quit, it will show that I have stood the test with unswerving endurance with maturity, integrity and strength of character. And this will bring me joy.
“We pray that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, to exercise every kind of endurance with perseverance and that you will be patient and not give up when troubles come”. (Colossians 1:10)
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