Over the weekend, a runner for the University of Oregon had a very public, and rough, lesson in not finishing.
There’s a temptation to pile on, but think about how many times we’ve been this guy. We were done with something. We were there. We’d won. Then, we had to say one more thing; make sure we took one more victory lap before something went horribly wrong and it all came back on us. It’s not pretty and in that moment you want to punish yourself much more than everyone else would. The greatest humilation is the type that’s self-inflicted, because we know better.
Now comes the horrible, horrible moment when he realizes that those loud cheers as he approached the finish line weren’t for him at all, but the guy arm pumping down the stretch, that guy who saw an opportunity because the one in front of him was coasting.
Finishing well shouldn’t be hard, but apparently it’s one of the toughest things to do. That’s especially the case if up to that point everything has been going right. We make a mental deposit in the “Done” category before crossing the line and laziness sets in right next to his best friend, complacency.
As an older man, the Apostle Paul wrote to his protege in the faith, Timothy, about this. It comes from the perspective of a teacher to a student; one who has life experience and is passing that on to another.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
This is a sign-off. Paul considered his martyrdom at this point a certainty. These words would be the last of his addressing Timothy.
Today or this week, you’ll face a point where you’ll be tempted to not finish well. You’ll think that what you did previously is substantial and you can coast now. Don’t do it. As Paul wrote earlier, take every opportunity; don’t take it for granted.