Finishing Well, Like Jesus

As December came to a close, I stopped to evaluate all that had been accomplished in 2008. Back in January of 2007, I knew I wanted to arrive at December, finishing well. I’ve discovered through the years that those who want to finish well will start well and then keep on plugging away to a strong finish.

Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), knowing He had accomplished the Father’s will. He finished well because He lived well and with purpose.

Jesus knew why He came to earth. He said His “meat” — what sustained Him — was to do the will of the Father who sent Him and to finish His work (John 4:34; John 5:30b). He stayed in close contact with the Father and received His marching orders early in the day (Mark 1:35-39), because His heart’s desire was to please the Father (John 8:29) and He knew that the secret of obeying was in abiding. He focused on God’s long-term purposes to evaluate His daily activities, and didn’t cave in to others’ expectations. He identified His own will with the Father’s in complete, joyful surrender. He knew when to act and when to say “no” to things that did not fit in with the Father’s plan for each day (Mark 1:38). And Jesus persevered; He didn’t stop until He accomplished all that the Father had sent Him to do.

Jesus’ example is a model for me as I think about finishing well. I long to someday hear the words, “Well done, Faithful Servant!” So there are many choices to make before then. It’s all about pursuing God, living with the end purpose clearly in view, and persevering with wisdom and courage until the job gets done.


Lesson from a Car Show

As my husband and I walked the floor of the huge auto show in downtown San Diego, recently, my eyes always seemed to drift toward the red convertibles. I even had my husband take a photo of me, waving from one. Dreaming about—or possibly, lusting over—a new car, I asked my husband a lot of questions. They all boiled down to one basic thought: "Would this be a good fit for us?"

We checked out luxury models, classic sedans, and study family cars. We sat in gas hogs and eco-friendly hybrids. "Where are we in our lives right now," I asked? "Would this luscious two-seater be practical—where would we put the grandkids? Would this one drain our gasoline funds? Would that one hold up? Can we afford this one?" We didn’t buy one, but we sure left with a lot of car brochures in our sturdy Toyota car-show bag!

All the way home, I thought more about that question, "Would this be a good fit for us?" Suddenly, I realized I’ve been asking myself that question all of my Christian life. I see something I want, or someone asks me to participate in a certain activity, and I ask, "Does this make sense for me, as a Christian, or is it outside the parameters of a close walk with God?" I have great freedom in Christ, but some things just don’t fit in, if I want to be used for His kingdom.

I remember reading an article titled "Others May ... You cannot" by W. B. Howard. One line, especially, grabbed my heart: "... in many ways He will seem to let other good people do things which He will not let you do."

Does that mean I can’t get a red-hot convertible? No. It just means that I need to be sure God wants me to get a red-hot convertible, and if so, I’d better be sure of His timing. As a Christ-follower, my choices need to align with His will.


Colorful Goals

I woke up New Year’s morning thinking about crayons. I have no idea why. Maybe God was giving me a simple way to envision my goals for everyday living, or the qualities I want in my life. As I lay in bed, thinking “Huh? Crayons?” these thoughts came to my mind.

Red is for LOVE. I think of a red heart. The Lord is the love of my life. In everything I do, I want to do it with all my heart — with passion for Him! (Luke 10:27a; I Corinthians 10:31)

Yellow is for sunshiny JOY. As I think about the Lord and give Him thanks, joy floods my heart — “Heavenly Sunshine” even in circumstances I cannot understand. (Psalm 5:11; I Thessalonians 5:16).

Green is for PEACE. Peace comes trusting and following my Shepherd into green pastures where I learn to relax in the circumstances of life, knowing He is nearby. And if I wander away, He is relentless in searching for me. (Psalm 23:1-4)

Orange is for OBEDIENCE. To obey God, I must know His Will. I often have to choose between “oranges” and apples in life, and I want to do the Father’s will. I need true discernment for the tougher choices. The Lord wants to direct my choices as I acknowledge Him and study His Word. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Blue is for FAITHFULNESS. God is “true blue” in caring for His children. I do not need to fear anything or anyone but Him. Seeing how He cares for me, how can I help but respond by being loyal and faithful to Him? (Psalm 36:5; 89:8; 119:89-90)

Purple is for INTEGRITY. As a Child of the King (and I think of a King’s purple robe here), I have dignity in my position in Christ—I am His ambassador. I must live a pure testimony in an impure world, above reproach. (2 Corinthians 5:20; Philippians 2:15)

Brown is for SERVICE. Just as Jesus washed the brown dirt from the feet of his disciples, I am called to wash others’ feet—to serve them unselfishly. (John 13:14-15; I Corinthians 10:24; Galatians 6:2)

Black is for REPENTANCE. I make sinful choices—willfully and presumptuously, or simply because I am an imperfect human. The dark spots of my sin were washed away at the cross, but I must confess (acknowledge, repent of) my daily sins if I want unbroken fellowship with God. (I John 1:9)

Because I am a “Grammy,” I have a small box of crayons at my desk at all times, and I plan to teach this simple “colorful” lesson to my granddaughters. One of the crayons in the box is broken, and I am reminded that sometimes my character and holy living get “broken,” too, but God will always forgive and redeem my life. He can still use the pieces to color a beautiful picture for His glory. He can use you, too, if you will give your broken pieces to Him!