A few years ago a friend prayed, "Lord, I just want to finish well. I know I have made mistakes and mess ups, but I hope others will look at the whole of my life and conclude, 'she finished well.'"
I added my plea to hers. But how will that happen?
Jesus models what it means to finish well. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father, "I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do." John 17:4 On the cross Jesus declared, "It is finished!"
Just before His crucifixion Jesus prayed:
"Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may KNOW You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do." (John 17:1-4)
Jesus knew that He was faithfully fulfilling the purposes of God by completing the work God gave Him to do. How did Jesus know the time had come for Him to finish up God's plan for His children?
The book of Mark vividly describes the busy, emotionally and physically exhausting days Jesus spent healing many and driving out demons, confronting false teachers and discipling the twelve. Jesus experienced disappointing relationships when people who initially adored Him, walked away. He experienced every emotion and temptation we experience. Urgent needs pressed Him twenty-four hours a day. How did He rest, knowing that even His disciples were confused when He refused to add one more task to His "to do list?"
After a particularly exhausting season of meeting enormous needs, Mark describes a private moment in Jesus' life:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for Him, and when they found Him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else - the nearby villages, so I can preach there also. That is why I have come. So He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Mark 1:35-39
Don't stop reading! I'm not about to add more guilt to your soul and promise that, if you to have devotions every day, the storms of life will fade away and you will always be the picture of peace!
The Call of Jesus to His Daughters and Sons
Listen to the words of Jesus:
"My frustrated daughter, come to Me. You are weary and burdened. I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.
What is the yoke that is easy, the burden that is light? Is He promising that if we obey His call that our lives will be simple and restful? A quick read of Hebrews 11 shatters that thought.
No, Jesus is not guaranteeing a life of ease but this passage holds the key to "finishing well" by faithfully fulfilling the purposes of God in our lives.
What is the yoke of Jesus?
In my book, Treasures of Encouragement, Women Helping Women in the Church, I conclude that biblical encouragement is not complicated but it is sometimes hard. The key to being a biblical encourager is to understand our identity in Christ and becoming channels of His compassion to others. The key to finishing well is the same.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and strength. Matthew 22:37
Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39
What does the Lord require? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Be still and know that He is God. Psalm 46:10
A New Year's Resolution
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. There is no better time than now to experience God's love with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Loving God equips you to love others with justice, mercy and humility. Make your first New Year's Resolution a commitment to "be still and know that He is God."
There is no other way to finish well.
Sharon W. Betters is the wife of Dr. Chuck Betters, Pastor/teacher of MARK INC Ministries. She is the author of Treasures of Encouragement and Treasures in Darkness, A Grieving Mother Shares Her Heart. This article is adapted from Treasures of Encouragement Ezine, December, 2006. Sign up for the free Treasures of Encouragement monthly ezine and learn more about resources designed to help turn your heart toward God by visiting www.markinc.org.