I’m a great starter. Heck of a starter. I can start with the best of them. In fact, very few people can out-start me. I could win starting trophies, if there were such a thing. Maybe even set some starting records.
But somewhere along the way, I get distracted. Or discontent. Or dissatisfied, disheartened, disillusioned…something.
I am not proud to say that this has been somewhat of a pattern in my Christian walk. For example, God laid it on my heart several years ago to read the Bible all the way through. I have since read Genesis no less than 26 times. Because the only thing I do better than start is start OVER. And the more times I start over, the more I begin to subconsciously believe that I won’t finish.
For me, the message this past Sunday could not have been more God-sent or more timely. You see, I have realized recently that one of the primary reasons that I am such a poor finisher is because I have, somewhere deep down inside of me and generally just outside of my conscious awareness, an overwhelming fear of failure. And as I listened to the Sunday message and heard Mark repeat the words “It is finished,” I realized, for the first time, the magnitude of these words and the Power behind them. And I was struck with the realization that Jesus finished the work on the cross. I have work to do, but Jesus finished THE work. The work that makes me right with God. The work that makes me unconditionally accepted, unconditionally loved, and eternally secure. And I found myself wondering, “How would my life look differently if I REALLY GOT THIS?” If deep down inside, where my fear of failure lives, I truly understood the reality that where I stand with God is not related to my performance or to my ability to please others, but is already decided by Jesus’s finished work on the cross. And I realized that when I truly GET this, truly understand it with my heart instead of just with my head, then I will be free to fail. I will be free to take the second step, and the third, and the fourth, rather than just the first, without fear of failure or rejection, because I will be secure in the knowledge that falling down does not alter my status as a child of God one single bit. That I could fail at everything I ever try from this point forward and my worth would not diminish. There is great freedom in this realization. And if I am free to fail, then I am also free to succeed. Not to succeed by the world’s standards, but to succeed by finishing well. And I CAN finish well because, and only because, Jesus did. I cannot finish well in my own strength. But I can in His. Because His grace is sufficient. And what does He ask of me? Only that I take one step, and then another, closer to Him and deeper into His will for me.
(Written for my church’s blog, Live Oak Roots, on 4/21/11.)