BE faithful to finish well.
For a legacy to BE lasting, I must
BE fruitful in every season.
BE the example.
And, finally, I must persevere. I must BE faithful to finish well. Our faithfulness to finish well affects all those around us.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says it so well -
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
A couple of real life experiences drove this point home to me so vividly...
I am not an athlete so I have to obtain my life lessons from sports vicariously through the lives of my children. Many times God has used such instances to indelibly imprint the truths of Scripture on my heart. Forever.
So it was with one particular race....
My oldest decided she wanted to run a half marathon. Don't ask me why - I will never be able to understand that desire. In fact, I am pretty sure running is not a good idea at all. You know what it says in Proverbs 28:1 - The wicked run when no one is pursuing them! For real! That's all the admonition I need not to run :)
Anyhow, back to my firstborn and her decision to run 13.1 miles. I wasn't about to run with her but I was also not about to miss the event. EARLY on a cold Sunday morning. 90 minutes away in downtown Atlanta. I am nothing if not a good cheerleader, so the hubs and I loaded up the remaining kids and headed to Atlanta. My wise hubby explained to me that I not only did I not need to be there when the gun started the race but that probably I shouldn't expect her to cross that line for a couple of hours.
I was taking NO chances, however. We had to get there EARLY. You just never know. This kid is like Midas - everything she touches turns to gold so I wouldn't have been surprised to see her beat all the professionals. Just sayin.
So we all got there and huddled up, pretty sure they were all silently bashing their early bird Mom but I was happy to be there. And while Katie wasn't the first to finish the race, God did have treasures in store. At least for me.
As we waited for her to get to the end, I people-watched. And I began to notice there were three different categories of people gathered there. There were those fast runners who finished early and were waiting for the prizes to be awarded. There were those who were still running and finally, there were those spectators just there to watch. As He is prone to do, God began to open my eyes and then He spoke to my heart...
Those who had completed the race early didn't grab their medals and leave the event. Instead, they remained, close to the finish line and cheered as the other runners came close. They weren't gloating - they were encouraging. "Come on, you can do it! Way to go! You're almost done!" In spite of my non-running tendencies, I was touched. No doubt the support of those already done was inspiring to those still running. I imagined those remaining runners telling themselves, "If they can do it, so can I! I am not giving up!"
I noticed also that those still running were offering encouragement to one another. Passing along a cup of water. Or a pat on the back or letting them know a hill was coming up. (Or a port-a-potty --- that would have been my main concern.) While some of the runners were in it to win it, most of them that day were there with a buddy or two, just running together and wanting to complete the race. It was easy to see how having a friend beside you would make the difference between quitting and not.
Then I considered that final group - us spectators. Those of us NOT in the race. Maybe some n the crowd had run before or maybe they had never run. I figure there were plenty there who were giving some thought as to whether they would ever run a race like this themselves...and they were taking careful note of how those runners were running and especially how they were finishing. I'd bet a pretty penny that some potential marathon-ers were formed that day as those not yet running watched the racers go by.
As my eyes scanned the street hoping to see Katie, the Holy Spirit whispered that passage in Hebrews to me. I thought He was going to focus my heart on the "run with endurance" part and I was all prepared to nod my sanctified head and smile. Instead, He told me to notice the three groups of witnesses there to watch the race. Three groups that have an impact on the runners. Three different reasons to keep running.
Those same groups are the cloud of witnesses surrounding my race. And yours. Three different groups from which we can draw encouragement and inspiration and courage. And three different reasons for us to keep on running and to BE faithful to finish well.
Those who have already finished the race are not taking an eternal celestial nap but are doing the divine work of God the Father and I believe with all my heart that one of the things they are doing is praying for those of us who remain. Asking Him to help us run well and finish with faithfulness. And to serve as examples for us all - knowing so many others have finished strong urges us on to do the same.
That group of us runners still in the race - what a source of motivation and encouragement we are to one another! A timely hug, a joyful "attagirl", a cup of water for a parched throat. A listening heart, a word of warning or helpful assistance, even just a nearby presence. Knowing that we have others whom we can count on and who count on us can make the difference between dropping out and finishing well.
And that final group. Those witnesses who are not running, just watching and perhaps considering whether or not to ever run themselves. Such an important group. We must be mindful that our race is a testimony to some that have not yet decided to run. Watching how we run - and fall and get back up, how we run - and do not drop out, is helping somebody else decide to join the race.
Leaving a legacy that remains....let's BE faithful to finish well.
That cloud of witnesses is watching.