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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Learn from Nehemiah — Finish Strong

Rebuilders finish strong. Always. In every area of life. Think about the following examples:

  • Who generally wins a professional golf tournament? The one who finishes the strongest. Even though the tournament consists of 72 holes played over four days, it is the golfer who plays every hole— especially the final two or three—with focus and passion who wins. He or she may even have hit the ball out of bounds on a previous round, but that golfer knows it’s possible to finish strong and still win. Because it is never too late for a new beginning.
  • The same is true in basketball. One of the greatest spectator events of the year is the annual “Final Four” college basketball tournament. The team that plays the best in the final two minutes of each tournament game, who finishes strongest, is the most likely to win the championship. Maybe you fouled out in a previous game. Maybe you didn’t make a single shot. So what? Get up. Get off the sidelines. Get back in the game. Keep focused and faithful. There is still time for the wall to be completed.
  • In the Olympic Games, the mile run is one of the signature events. Even though those runners have been running around the track for almost a mile, the outcome generally comes down to the final fifty yards of the race. The one who finishes the strongest is the one who gets the medal.
  • My daughter is an attorney and has spent much of her time in the courtroom, arguing various litigation cases. Jury selection is an important part of winning a trial. Opening arguments are vital in setting the direction of the case. The examination and the cross-examination of witnesses are crucial. But it is that final argument given to the jury that leaves the lasting impression. Usually, the attorney who finishes the case the strongest is the one who wins the verdict.

If this fact is true in golf, basketball, track, and even in the courtroom, it is most definitely also true in rebuilding our lives. Whether we are rebuilding a home, a relationship, a marriage, a vocation, a business, a church, or anything else, those who get the job completed have at least this one characteristic in common: they finish strong.

We will be remembered by how we finish our race. I have a world of admiration for the men and women I have known in life who, for a while, might have lost focus or even faithfulness, but who then battled back to finish strong. Some had gotten off on a side street. Others were put on the sideline. Yet they got up and got back in the race. Some might be running with a slight limp, but they are back running their race and seeking to finish strong. Some of us, in a weak moment, may have gone down to the Plain of Ono and met the enemy halfway. But it is never too late to get back in the race.

The thing that really matters for each of us is seeing our wall finished. The gospel of Mark in our New Testament is one of my favorite books. It was actually written by a man named John Mark who is the epitome of what Nehemiah taught about finishing strong. Do you remember him? He started out right. He was one of Paul’s prize students. He even journeyed with Paul on that first missionary journey. But then he quit. He lost his focus and got off on a side street. He left the great apostle in a lurch. Later, however, encouraged by Barnabas, John Mark got up, got back in the race, and finished strong. He was even commended by Paul, himself, in one of his final epistles. We all need a Barnabas in our lives to encourage us. And we all need to be a Barnabas to someone else. Every time I read the gospel of Mark, I am reminded that it is never too late for a new beginning.

Taken from The Nehemiah Code: It's Never Too Late for a New Beginning by O.S. Hawkins Copyright © August 28, 2018, by Thomas Nelson Publishers. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com. 

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