Friday, January 29, 2010

Play to Finish Well!

Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. (Romans 12:11-12, CEV)

This morning I felt a heavy conviction as I read the story of a biblical king, Asa, who started out his reign well, but finished poorly. This was a man who had a grasp on what was important and dedicated himself to it. He trusted God in the most impossible of situations. Later, he even rallied the people he led, to commit themselves with zeal to doing the right things. However, he blew his whole legacy by becoming lax, taking his eyes off the goal and doing horrible things to people.

My conviction comes in seeing how easy it would be for me, for any of us, to be an Asa. We start out with our hearts and heads in the right place. We have passion at the "buy-in", but droop when it comes to consistency. We begin with resolve and often trade it in for apathy.

I even find that this can be true of my parenting. I see a behavior in my child that is unacceptable. Identifying the need to reshape that child's character, I seek out all the necessary tools to accomplish my goal. Still, the weariness of the daily battles makes me chose comfort over character. My children can too easily dissolve into a path of unstructured apathy.

Medical struggles can put me off track too. Following through with therapies, treatments and medications can appear to be the "magic bullet" when I begin them, but when no easy outcomes appear, routine vanishes. I can resolve to stand up to medical professionals and therapy providers knowing that I have a good strategy that I'm comfortable with. One extremely weak moment can then find me rolling over to what I'm being pushed to do by those who are certain that they know better than I!

I don't want to be an Asa. There's no joy, no accomplishment, no glory in being flaccid. And when friends call my attention to my shortcomings, I want to have a teachable spirit. So I need to find ways to finish the race well.

There are some ways that we can end up at our intended destination when completing the rat race of life. First, decide! You know that every worthy goal starts with a decision to end up in a certain place and a commitment to get there. Measure the cost of your resolution at the outset. Don't start something you have no intention of finishing. It not only ruins your credibility with others, but also with yourself.

Second, do everything within your power to keep your eyes on the prize. Whether it is resolving that you will treat your child's diagnosis without the use of prescription drugs or determining that you will make certain your child is included in a Sunday school program at a local church, don't get sidetracked from what you are attempting to accomplish. It's probably not news that writing down the goal and steps you'd like to use to implement it results in a more favorable outcome.

Third, surround yourself with encouragers. One has to wonder what sort of people Asa was surrounding himself with that made him fall off the wagon after so many years of faithfully pursuing God's plan for his life. I, for one, could not make it through most days without the storehouse of individuals who believe in me and admonish me to do what is right. When "the committee" of doubt convenes in my head, there is nothing like a person walking side-by-side with me to snap me out of the self-accusations.

Fourth, refill your cup! No human being can keep focused when they are worn-out, stressed-out, poorly nourished and isolated. God made our bodies and minds in a certain fashion. We deceive ourselves and implode when we think we can circumvent those God-given needs. Whether it be taking time to read a book, going out with a friend or enjoying a hobby, renewal will energize you to get back in the game.

Wrap all of these things in God's word and prayer and you have an unbeatable combination for standing your ground. In the end, it's not the one-hit-wonder, the flash-in-the-pan who leaves their mark on the world. It is the one who persists, who continues putting one foot in front of the other, heading in the right direction even if they fall down once in awhile, who makes it to the winner's circle.

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