Finish strong

Finish strong

Instead of the usual Verse of the Day, consider the Quote of the Day for June 20, 2018, words of wisdom from Billy Sunday, a former professional baseball player who rose to become one of the most popular evangelists of the early 20th Century:

“Stopping at third adds no more to the score than striking out. It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish.”

As spiritual athletes, we push ourselves not only to finish, but to “finish strong.” Many times as athletes come to the end of their event, they may become totally exhausted, physically and emotionally drained with seemingly with no more to give. At that point, they are in desperate need of a word of encouragement, a word fitly spoken to those who are weary and about to give up.

A passage where Paul uses athletic imagery comes to mind:

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

To press toward the mark is to focus intently, to “scope in on” as one with a telescope which blocks everything out except that which you are looking at. As we approach the finish line we must “single-minded,” focusing all of our energy and efforts on finishing our race. We must not look to the right nor to the left, certainly we must not look behind, but I press toward the mark, striving to cross the finish line. We recognized that we have to cross the finish line before we can receive the prize.

At this point, we have been running our race well, but we must not get weary in well-doing, knowing that we shall reap in due season if we simply do not faint, so says Galatians 6:9,  a verse added to the passage from Philippians 3 to introduce this exhortation:

We Press toward the Mark                             

 And let us not grow weary while doing good,

 for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9

 

I press toward the mark for the prize

of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

 

 

We know we must not be weary in all we do;

In due season we will reap if we do not faint,

As we press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

 

God has thus spoken, and His word is ever true.

According to their labor God rewards each saint.

We know we must not be weary in all we do.

 

Though our new season may appear long overdue,

Despite how bright or bleak the picture life may paint,

We must press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

 

Christ alone will restore and give life and renew.

Though pressures of life overwhelm, we must not faint.

We know we must not be weary in all we do.

 

To obey, giving honor where honor is due,

To move freely in the spirit with no constraint,

We must press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

 

Each day God extends mercy, making all things new.

Gladly we learn to serve the Lord without restraint.

We know we must not be weary in all we do.

We must press toward the mark of the prize and pursue.

Final words of encouragement:

In thinking about my track and field experiences, I recall  that many times the outcome of the entire track meet was known beforehand, based on the accumulation of points from all the previous track and field events,  with the last two races being relays.  Drawing a spiritual parallel with the spiritual athletic arena that we find ourselves in today, the believers’ team is so far ahead that we cannot lose; however, the challenge is for each individual believer to finish the race, having achieved his or her P.B. (personal best).

In a similar way, believers are encouraged in their individual races to

Cast aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets,

We are right at the end of the race; it won’t be long.

Forget the past, look straight ahead with no regrets.

Press on toward the finish and finish strong!

We close as Jonathan Nelson encourages us to “Finish Strong”

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