If you watched this year’s Super Bowl, you will recall it was one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. Though the Falcons led for 59 of the 60 minutes of the game, the Patriots pulled out an unbelievable comeback, scoring 31 unanswered points and erasing a 25-point lead. And to top it off they won it in overtime.
I am not sure I have seen the likes of it.
And the fact that the Falcons had such a dominating lead is only brought up in light of their absolute epic fail to maintain a huge lead. Their amazing start to the game was only mentioned as to the heartbreaking way in which they lost.
I doubt there are many Atlanta fans feeling good about the fact that they had a 25-point lead over the New England Patriots. No one is saying, “Sure our defense collapsed, but hey, we did have the lead for most of the game! We started really well!”
Rather, the quick start and big lead only made the loss that much more bitter.
Death causes us to think about that finish line
There is no doubt that how you start is important. It paves the way for a successful finish. But a successful start does not necessarily mean there will be a successful finish. There is a reason the saying goes “It’s all how you finish.” and not “It’s all how you start.”
This past week our church lost one of its elders. He was 88 years old and had been married to his wife for over 65 years. He lived in the same house he grew up in as a child. He served as an elder for decades. And when I heard of his passing, two thoughts came to mind: 1) what a gentle and faithful man he was, and 2) he finished well.
This man was soft spoken, humble, and full of conviction. He loved his wife. And he loved his local church. And as I thought about his life, I could not help but think that I hope I can finish this earthly race as he did. He finished well.
The thought of finishing well is not one that I reflect on as often as I should. But events like this one always bring it to the forefront of my mind once again.
As I have said in a past post, we as guys never drift into right thinking or action. And neither will we drift into a life of finishing well.
We allow sensual idols in our lives because we are bored.
We do not pursue our wives because it is too hard.
We do not engage our kids because we are not sure how.
And all the while we are building a legacy for ourselves where one day others will think of us and how we finished this life. And though some nice sentiments will fall from the lips of those who knew you, the dust will settle and those you loved will know how you really finished.
For us as guys, I see three things in my own life that will contribute to my finishing well in this race called “life” and my hope is that you might begin to ponder them in a new way.
There are many passages in scripture that I could point to but I am going to simply reference one: Isaiah 66:2. In this verse God makes an unusual statement in saying that He notices a certain type of person. “This is the one to whom I will look,” God declares. Doesn’t that statement make you curious? That though God is all-aware and all-knowing, He takes special note of this type of person?
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isa. 66:2)
Finishing well requires humility
Why? Because it is the antithesis of pride. Pride is at the root of my sensual cravings. Pride is at the root of not pursing my wife. Pride is at the root of not engaging my kids. Humility requires dependency…on God, not my own ways. It views God as He should be viewed, not through the lens of my own making. God makes much of our pride – in fact, James says that He opposes it (James 4:6).
Finishing well requires a repentant spirit
Repentance is a gift given by God. And a quickness to repent means that my pursuit of supremacy is a short-lived thing. Not that it does not happen often, because it does for me. My own heart is frequently challenging God for who should sit on His throne.
Contriteness is not a term we hear too much anymore, but it just means that I feel the pain of my full and freeing friendship with God being marred when I sin against my Father.
Finishing well requires that I fear His word
I talk with a lot of guys and many who are struggling with something in their life. And I typically do not find one who is mired in sin who is also fearing God and His word as he should. To understand and obey scripture makes the implication that I actually know what it says. And to know what is says demands that I read it and engage it.
I have had too many times where one or more of these characteristics were missing in my life. And though I may see myself “up by 25 points on my opponent,” the truth is that sin will take every advantage to “make a comeback.”
Finishing well requires us as guys to contemplate our race, to consider our race, and recalibrate every day back to truth.
I will miss this recently-departed elder, but the first thought that comes to mind is “Good work. I hope I finish like you one day.”