Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NKJV)
The end of a thing is better than its beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
The big day is finally here. It is our daughter’s wedding day! I am exhausted but far beyond overwhelmed. Overwhelmed came and went about three days of go and now it is all systems go to the finish line. During the rehearsal dinner for our daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law, the years passed like pages being flipped in the wind. Our children grew up right in front of our eyes. The days of sleepless nights and constant nurturing are gone as we now have three adults, one teenager and a baby girl on the verge of the same. All as tall as their mama or taller have become wonderful and intelligent people despite my many shortcomings and countless mistakes. God is indeed good! The word for the day is “completion”. I had forgotten in the midst of the flurry of activity that God is completing some things in my life that I was unaware of because they are part of His Plan and not my own.
Several months ago when facing a bone marrow transplant for our son and upcoming nuptials of our daughter mixed with family, work and life in general, it became my goal to make it to this day. To sit on the front row in little white chairs facing a pergola overlooking a beautiful lake with majestic oak trees at my daughter the radiant bride surrounded by ALL of her siblings. Of course, her groom along with other family and friends, too. But in that moment, it would be the realization that we made it through this year. We endured. God was faithful. We made it through to finish this race. Well, that day is here. It is a day of completion. The end of one chapter giving way to the next. The end of a thing is better than its beginning. How many times do we start things but never finish. Wasted time and effort that comes to nothing but broken dreams and disappointments. God created us to be finishers. He made us for the end and not the beginning. Our future is in forever.
James 1:12 (NKJV)
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
I have been tempted many times to give up on my faith throughout my lifetime. We have faced so many fiery trials this year that I have become accustomed to the heat and find comfort in God’s Kitchen. When things are quiet, I become concerned. I must force myself to rest in the eye of life’s storms to conserve energy, renew faith and restore hope in the down time. I want to be approved by God and that means making it to the end of each trial with faith. I must strive to hold on to hope even when life tells me that it is hopeless. I do not do this for now but for the end. The Crown of Life is the prize that I am after but many times I forget. It is a prize claim after this life is over. We must cross into forever to fully take hold of it. We fight for life but is it this life?
Luke 14:28-30 (NKJV)
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?
When I had my children, I never imagined this day would come. Some days as an exhausted young mother with a household of children, I didn’t think we would ever reach a time when the house would grow silent. It makes me sad. But I thought winning would be a victorious occasion full of celebration and joy, life is what you make it. The end of something may be painful, sad, or even unexpected. Other times, it may be surprising as we did not count the cost or see the value in each moment. But as I look at my daughter today, all I see is God’s Faithfulness. I prayed from the time she was born that she would only have eyes for the one who God made for her. He did that. She did. She is a godly woman fully competent to step out on her own even though my inclination is to pull her tight and hold her closely guarded for the rest of her life. But that is not God’s Plan for her or the future and hope that He promised. She must make her way through life and learn to endure. She must find her faith, cultivate it and hold tight to the confident hope that comes from it so she will make it to the end and finish the race of faith. This is the end. It is a good thing. I just need to learn to count the cost first so that finishing becomes my focus rather than maintaining comfort in the fiery trials.
John 19:28-30 (NKJV)
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
The fact that all of our children are present today is a blessing that many may overlook. Going into this year, we knew our son would require a bone marrow transplant to save his life from recurrent cancer. There were no guarantees. So like a baseball player at bat, I pointed to the fence as our future. It looked a lot like today. In fact, it is today. Well past the 100-day mark of completion that the doctor’s look, he is with us looking good and feeling good other than the stuffy tux and pink bow time that he must don today. When Jesus died on the Cross, He said that is was finished. Just three words that changed my whole life, as well as the life of all who call Him Savior and Lord. We must strive to finish what we start to enjoy the benefits of the end even when the ending is quiet, not what we expected or as silent as a turning page. His Spirit is alive and well in us. We have a future and hope. It was given in a moment of pain and suffering. The disciples couldn’t believe how things were ending. How could any of this result in ruling and reigning forever with Jesus? Well, it does my friend. Faith is what we do not see but yet believe.
Matthew 24:12-14 (NKJV)
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
No matter what you are facing today, the end is coming. You just have to make it to the end to be saved, healed, set free, delivered, blessed, or to prosper. Whatever God has promised you is at the end of the road you are traveling. It is called the Highway to Holiness. It is not a busy street because most people give up before they ever get going. But not you. You have too much to lose so count the cost today. Add up the Promises of God and that which you hope for to determine if it is worth the time, energy and yes, even sacrifice that genuine faith and confident hope require.
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Find joy in the trials that you are facing by setting your sights on the end. It may not be a dramatic finish, but a win is a win. You will have to be patient which may be a stretch. But when patience is allowed to do its perfecting work in you, you will be complete lacking no good thing. Joy and peace are the byproducts of patience endurance and well worth the price.
Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV)
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you Lord for reminding me that this is a beautiful ending to an amazing chapter in my life. You have done everything that I asked to perfection, today I bless Your Name. I call you faithful. I call you worthy. I call you amazing. As the chapter of this book called life turns into another chapter, I will continue to surrender my life to the Good Work you began when you saved me. I will fight the good fight. I will finish the race. I will cling to my faith! Thank you for another happy ending!
2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.