Finish Strong

I ran this morning. Some days it is smooth and effortless, gazelle-like. (At least as gazelle-like as an old, gimpy, pudgy guy can be.) Today was not one of those days. I was sore at the beginning, winded by mile 2, and pretty much ready to never run again by the time I had finished 3 miles. Then a song came on my ipod. (How did we ever exercise without ipods?) The song was Finish Strong, a catchy tune about endurance, faith, and the ability of God to see us through to the end. Perfect timing. I was about a mile from home and I decided to…you guessed it, finish strong.

That has become a recurrent theme for me lately. I’m facing a pretty significant birthday this month. I am reconciling to the fact that some things I’d like to recover are not going to happen. And I am spending more time reflecting on God’s plan and purpose for this last season of my life. The end result of all of that is a desire to finish strong.

So here are four things that really matter as we turn toward the finish line:
• First, my walk with God. No surprise here. Most of us would probably place this high on the list of priorities. But at this stage in my life my walk has taken on a new dimension. It’s not so much about trying, striving, seeking to become anymore. I am learning to relax, enjoy, genuinely relish the relationship of my heavenly Father, lovingly leading me step by step in the journey.
• Second, my family and those other close, meaningful relationships that God has brought into my life. Again, not a big revelation here but a necessary reminder from time to time. There are a thousand people I’d like to get to know. Hundreds I’d like to me buddies with. (Andy Murray comes to mind right now.) But when all is said and done there are really just a handful of people that will be there at the finish line. Those are the relationships I want to make sure I invest in while I still have a chance.
• The third thing might surprise you but I am coming to believe that what really matters at this stage of life is my health. Now I’m not talking about walking around with my fingers on my pulse and counting my calories ad nauseum but if I am going to do the first two things well I need to take care of myself. I want to be a good steward of the other things God gives me, talent, time, finances, shouldn’t I be a good steward of this physical temple I’m living in.
• And last, as I turn the corner and head for the home stretch the calling of God on my life becomes increasingly important. I’m not sure I always know exactly what that calling is. I am pretty sure that it has changed dramatically since my youth. But I do believe He has a purpose for me, for you, for every one of us, and my desire is to do all I can to achieve that end before, well, before the end.

So those things take precedence over everything else when I think about finishing strong. Your list might be very different but I encourage you to make a list. Wherever you are in the race, it is never too early to begin thinking about the finish and deciding to be strong down the home stretch. I think I’ll talk more about that in the blogs ahead.

And what about finishing strong in my run this morning? How did that work out? Ran out of gas about mile 4 and crawled up the driveway gasping for air and sweating like a pot-bellied pig. But there’s always tomorrow. Mike

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