CLERGY CORNER: How to finish strong

Posted on 25 July 2019 by LeslieM

The 2016 Olympics were memorable for numerous events that had viewers glued to their television screens. Whether in the swimming pool, during gymnastics competition, or in track and field, records were set, victors emerged and champions were crowned. Swimming champion Michael Phelps came out of retirement to attend his fourth Olympic Games and to attempt wins against much younger competitors. He had won gold in the 200m individual medley in 2004, 2008, 2012 and was hoping to win a fourth in Rio. Many of the younger swimmers had grown up watching and idolizing Phelps. Some were eager to prove themselves by beating the aging champion. As the first 50m got underway, Phelps was clearly behind but by the last 50m he had pulled ahead and finished to win a historic fourth gold medal in convincing fashion. It’s not how you start but how you finish that matters most.

How are you faring with your initial goals, resolutions and objectives for this year? Are you on target or have you given up? Hebrews 12:1-2 offers advice for winning the spiritual race, but the same directives can inspire our life goals as well. Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God.

There are several practical steps one can take to be assured of attaining objectives and finishing strong:

Elimination (laying aside) is a process of removing and disposing of things that are not conducive to our well-being. Take inventory of your life and assess your readiness to secure what you’re after. You may find you need to let go of things, thoughts or habits that are preventing your progress.

Determination (running with patience) is cultivated by realizing that life is a marathon not a sprint. Good things take time to develop and discipline is required to stay the course. A system or regimen of action will help you to get closer to the goal one step at a time.

Motivation (looking to Jesus) can be found in observing others who have similarly pursued goals, faced obstacles and eventually succeeded. Every person who made it to the summit of a mountain had to navigate some obstacles to get there. Their stories can provide the inspiration we need in times of our own uncertainty.

British runner Mo Farrah was hoping to repeat a win in the 10,000m during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and 11 minutes into the (30 minute) race he was tripped accidentally and tumbled to the track as other runners leaped over and dodged around him. Instead of remaining down and feeling discouraged, Farrah jumped up immediately and continued his run. Despite falling and losing momentum, he regained his composure and got back on pace. He would later win the race and secure a repeat as 10,000m champion.

There is a champion in each of us, but he or she is not revealed until the race is won, the battle is over or the goal is achieved. Preparation (physical, mental and spiritual) is a necessity for the athlete and any of us who set goals and objectives for our lives. Challenges will come along the way, and we may face discouragement and disillusionment when the unexpected happens. Advice such as this derived from the writer of Hebrews will help to keep us on track and on target to fulfilling our objectives. If you’ve fallen behind or stumbled along your way, you’re probably not alone. There’s still time to make a course correction and refocus. Get up with renewed determination; get back on track and finish strong!

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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