"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." II Timothy 4:6-8
I was channel surfing yesterday afternoon after church service, followed by speaking at the nursing home. Through the wonders of remote control I was alternating between the NASCAR race in New Hampshire, the British Open, the Women's World Cup Soccer match - and an occasional doze.
In the golf event, Phil Mikelson made a charge on the front-nine to get himself back into a tie for the lead. But on the back-nine he began to falter, and then he began to struggle and then he pretty much lost his touch or feel or something but his game fell apart.
Phil Mickelson had a very realistic opportunity to win the world's most prestigious golf tournament and he couldn't finish it. You can't win if you can't finish.
Then, for the next two hours I watched to World Cup final match between USA and Japan. From the very first kick of the game the USA team dominated play. They had several real good shots on goal that just barely missed them. Late in the first half they scored on a beautiful goal to go up 1-0 and looked to be in command. However, while trying to run the clock out in the first half they had a careless moment to give an easy goal to Japan. Despite outplay the Japanese team, Team USA went to the lockeroom with a tie. They failed to finish the first half well. Their dominating play continued through the second half but they failed to finish on some scoring opportunities ending the game tied. Scoring late in the extra-time period, it looked as though the World Cup would be theirs. But, once again they saw the Japanese team get a game-tying goal in the final minutes. Ending in a tie, the winner would be decided via the penalty kicks. One final time the USA girls were unable to finish and they lost a heart-breaker to Japan. It did not matter that the Americans had played better soccer than the ladies from Japan, what mattered is they couldn't finish. Winners know how to finish well.
Paul, writing to his young ministering partner Timothy, testified that he had completed what God had called him to do and was now ready to finish well. In Hebrews 12:1-2 he shares his plan for finishing well - "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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. "
This aged apostle knew that to finish well he could not afford to take His eyes off Jesus for even a moment!
Are you determined to finish well? What is your plan to make sure you do? Have you fixed your focus squarely and exclusively on Jesus?