Monday, January 05, 2009
Gen. 1-11: Finish Strong
I have never been a good finisher...I like to start new things and get them going and then think of something else to start. At first glance it would be easy to talk about beginnings...after all we are reading Genesis...but I was struck as I read that in the first 11 chapters of Genesis it is painfully obvious that I am not the only one who has trouble finishing strong.
God sets the example early...get your work done and then rest. Adam and Eve get a lot done and then get distracted by the serpent...with some fairly large consequence. Noah is incredibly faithful but then, in retirement, chooses to make a vineyard and get drunk. And right at the end we read of Abram's father Terah who, on his way to Canaan, decides he will just stop in Haran for awhile/for the rest of his life...a decision that will cost Abram half of his inheritance.
I remember when I was in Middle School and this guy spoke about doing the most important things in the day first so that you can be a strong finisher every day. He had an empty jar (to represent your day) and poured a bunch of sand in while saying, "The sand represents the extras...video games, t.v., joking, surfing the web and general time wasters." After dumping all of the sand in the jar he started dropping in rocks, "These are the things you know you should be doing...brushing your teeth, reading your Bible, caring for your family, finishing chores, encouraging others, and anything else that shows good stewardship of your time." He was quickly out of room in the jar and did not get all of the rocks in. In his second attempt he put all of the rocks in the jar first, and then poured in the sand, miraculously (to a junior higher) everything fit this time!
Losing site of the end is always a problem, and for many of us time runs out before we do the things we know we ought to do. Why wait until tomorrow to challenge your spouse? Why wait for New Years to make life changes, why wait for disaster before realizing something is wrong? Live the life you hope for today, and persevere! As I am reading through the Bible from the start there are definitely passages that I look forward to getting to: men of great faith, women of incredible hope and God's amazing promise at the end! I know there will be some slower parts along the way, but I believe God will speak through all of it. Paul, after just reflecting on many of these stories says in Heb. 12:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In the beginning it is critical to have the end in mind, so that you can make every effort to move that direction...my hope is to not lose focus like Adam and Eve, rest foolishly like Noah or retire early like Haran.