About midway through the spring semester of my senior year at Wofford, I woke up from a nightmarish sort of dream. In the dream I had found out that I was one course short of graduating. Quickly that morning, I walked into the registrar’s office to make sure that I had enough credits to graduate. The registrar laughed a bit, was nice enough to look up my records, and assured me I was going to graduate. In fact, he said, if you make a 4.0 this semester, you’ll graduate with honors. I thanked him for the information but told him that it might be a little too late to make a difference. But then I got to thinking that it actually wouldn’t be all that difficult. Not only did I find out that I would indeed be finishing school, but, if I applied myself, I could actually finish with a flair. It was an unexpected grace, an encouraging push at the end of a long endeavor.
Many people at this time of the year are in the finishing stages of some endeavor. Students and teachers are trying to dig a little deeper to maintain their focus and gain that last bit of energy which will carry them through. Certainly those who work in churches can identify. So many things we started in September now get wrapped up. How can we do that well, so as to provide a good experience for all the participants, enough so that they will want to do it again in September? How can we be faithful to these tasks we have been working on? The finishing stages of most endeavors largely determine their ultimate success yet the important work comes at a time when we are tired and drained.
We can easily be haunted by worldly voices of discouragement. We can think that it doesn’t much matter, at this late stage of the game, how we perform. We can doubt the value of our effort or even the endeavor itself. We can give into laziness or boredom. Our lack of energy can cause us to give up. Or our lack of interest in this project can cause us to look only at what might happen next.
Starting projects, for most of us, is more energizing and exciting than finishing them. In the beginning, we have an impulsive burst which carries us along. We see the immediate results of our efforts. The potential of the experience lies out there as enticement. But toward the end we begin to have doubts. Our interest wanes. And, if we’re not careful, we create a series of chaotic enterprises begun in a flurry but never completed. Those unfinished tasks become burdens we carry around which eventually catch up with us.
Amazing, isn’t it, the great attention to detail we notice in the smallest parts of nature. Little bugs have intricate little parts which carry out remarkable tasks. Mosquitos have knees of all things! God has designed a system which involves so very many little things which make the bigger things possible. God begins his work and completes it so wonderfully.
Our faithfulness at the end of our tasks allows us to remove some barriers between us and God. Those unfinished projects, or projects finished half-heartedly, plague us. Guilt and shame mount and we are separated from the love of God because we know we have not lived into our God-given potential. Learning to follow through with a sense of hope and encouragement helps us see God’s great faithfulness to us. God begins journeys in our lives. And God always completes what he has begun in us. Learning to finish well in our earthly tasks helps us see how well God accompanies us through each step of our pilgrimages.
Finish what you have started. Participate in grace as fully as you can. Know that God blesses and makes possible all our efforts.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.