March 27, 2017
It’s Not How You Start. It’s How You Finish
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).
Friend to Friend
I sat by her bed.
Her hand swollen…full…unmoving.
Feet that danced just a few weeks ago now stilled. Arms that lifted just a short time ago now limp. Words that spilled easily just a moment ago now halted. How could life seep away so quickly, right before my eyes?
Mom was ready. But I wasn’t.
Mom called to tell me she was going to the emergency room. She had abdominal pain and couldn’t stop throwing up. I had just been at her house four days before, and this was something new.
“She has an ileus,” the doctor explained. “Part of her intestines have stopped working. But her heart isn’t strong enough to survive surgery. If her intestines don’t start working on their own, she will die.”
Four weeks into the sitting and waiting, it looked like Mom was going to get to go Home. Not to her little brick house in the colonial neighborhood…the one with cedar shingles, cobblestone street, and white picket fence where she had lived for more than 25 years, but her home in a celestial neighborhood with familiar faces, golden streets, and the presence of God. Mom was ready. She had been planning the party for quite sometime.
I gently held her fluid-filled hand. Sky-blue eyes looked off into the distance. Her mind replaying bits and pieces of life.
“Mom, whatcha thinking about?” I asked.
“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish,” she whispered.
“Who told you that?” I asked with a knowing smile.
“You did,” she replied.
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you more,” she countered.
Mom had regrets. We all do…if we’re honest. But she finished well. She had made sure that her grandkids, extended family, and I knew we were loved. She had made preparations of her passing as easy as possible for me, the lone child responsible for all the details. She loved Jesus and was thrilled to get to see Him face to face.
The last week of her life, I was having a bit of a crying spell. Mom had requested the doctors remove all the machines, all the tubes, all the medications. “Comfort care.” That’s what they called it.
“Well Mom, it looks like you’re going to get to see Jesus before I do.”
And in a quick wit that served her well to the end, she teased with a twinkle in her eye, “Are you jealous?”
And to be honest…I was.
We never know when our last day on this earth will be. But here’s what we do know—we have a choice right now, today, to finish well. Your new start to the finish could begin today. Regardless of your past mistakes and missteps, weakness and failures…regardless of how you started this race, you can decide to begin your finish well.
Lord, I have made so many mistakes in my life. A trail of regrets lie behind. But praise You I’ve chosen to leave them behind and not carry them into my future. No matter how I started, I pray that You will give me the wisdom and the power to finish well.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read this passage and note what Paul said about his decision to finish well:
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward [reaching forward] what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
What part does forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead play in finishing well?
More from the Girlfriends
What do you do with those regrets in your life? I say lets turn those miserable messes into magnificent messages of hope. Want to learn more about finding peace and purpose in the hurts of your past? Check out my book, Your Scars are Beautiful to God. It comes with a Bible study guide for groups or individuals who want to go deeper.
Originally published Monday, 27 March 2017.