A marathon winner is not necessarily the one who blasts off the line fastest, but the one who finishes strongest. We’ve all seen runners, horses, cars, churches and Christians who specialized in a flashy start, but fizzle before the finish. It is easy to blast out of the gate and tear up the track for 26 yards, but that serves no purpose if the course is 26 miles! The goal of the Christian life is to finish strong!
Our Sunday morning series is focused by the motivating words from Paul as an example of finishing strong, as well as his call to Timothy to do the same. Endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown… 2 Timothy 4:5-8
I want to encourage us, as individuals and as a missional community, to fulfill our ministry and stay strong. The course of our church, to this point, has been well-run indeed: We have a glorious history and an exciting ministry. There is so much that God has done through this church that could be termed nothing short of miraculous. We also need to realize though, in the immortal words of that sports philosopher: “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” There are still some crucial steps that we must press forward with intensity, if we are going to complete our ministry course.
Here’s my cheers for the finish-line:
“Keep Praying!” I appreciate those who have attended our home prayer meetings and who pray faithfully in response to our prayer chains as well as those joining our small group prayer partnerships and other efforts. Let’s keep moving forward – on our knees.
“Keep Close.” This has been a year of growing closer to God in worship and walk, and closer to each other is relationships and service. Please don’t let the busyness of events, work, or even ministry keep you away from the most important relationships in eternity. Safeguard relationships with grace and faithful communication so we move ahead – together.
“Keep Serving.” We have made tremendous strides in Going Missional as we have multiplied those equipped, resourced, sent and supported for the mission. This includes our commitment to living the mission in our homes, neighborhood, schools and work – as well as serving our region and beyond. Exciting things are happening with ESL and our community AWANA. But we’ve really just taken the first few steps toward “the ends of the earth” to which our Lord sends us. This ministry is fueled by the labors of faithful servants who keep running “rain or shine” (or snow or ice or tornado or heat and humidity). Let’s pursue mission to the ends of the earth – and beyond.
In my personal times of study, prayer and quietness, I am sensing that God wants to do a mouth-stoppin’, tear-jerkin’, glory-goin’ work through us in the future. I believe we are well-positioned for that. I want to run hard to keep in step with the Spirit just so I’m close enough to the action to see what God is doing. How about you?
Think for just a moment of all the opportunities you have, every day, to make a difference in this world and eternity! What things are you investing your skills, money and time in that will have value in 100 years? We have the privilege of being part of a work that is making a difference in people’s lives and all eternity. Let’s pursue the infinite reward beyond the finish line.