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The Finish Line - A Devotion

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2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

Turning the page to the journal, pages are thinning as another book of my thoughts about God’s Word comes to a close. Another awaits neatly on the shelf to be opened written in and scribbled upon as I seek to know more and more about the God I serve and His Great Love for me. But rather than looking back over the numerous voluminous and plethora of pages that are stored away with joy at the moments spent together in the Word, meditating, praying and listening as God wraps His Truth around me that He loves me unfailingly and unconditionally, I do not feel the elation that I do when one “chapter” closes and another begins. There is usually an inner jubilation at the thought that again for at least another hundred pages or so that the Lord has chosen to meet with me and bless me in His Presence. I should be excited that today is the last day of this chemotherapy cycle and there is only one more left in a couple of weeks to bring to a close the longest regimen yet of more than six months. We made it. The cancer is gone…again. My son is doing beautifully. God has walked him through the valley of death into a new season of life. Though we spend moments in the valley of weeping, just as He said it became a refreshing spring. On top of all that another year is coming to a dramatic close, all of my children are with us and healthy. For some this may be a common occurrence, but I have learned to thank the Lord for this small detail with the realization that the enemy would like nothing more than to steal, kill and destroy them. Whether it is stealing their hearts, killing their bodies or destroying their souls, anything that will rob us of blessed assurance pleases him just the same. He will have no such joy or pleasure on our account this year for just as God has promised – He has been faithful and true. So why am I struggling today of all days? It is Christmas Eve. The kids are excited. There are cookies to bake, a present or two to wrap, and family will soon be all together.

Tonight we remember that love came down to rescue me, love came down to set us free, and now we belong to the Lord forever. No one in my opinion sings that song better than Kari Jobe. But to the Lord, no one sings that better than you do. To hear the voice of the redeemed sing out praise for their salvation blesses the heart of God. However, today from my hands and knees I must remember that His Love has rescued me. I must get up because I am free. I must live as one who belongs to God even when I cannot see the finish line. I have decided today looking back that the days have been long and some nights even longer. I have determined that the aching in my heart has traveled to my hands and feet so I am weary. I do not feel as though I can take another step. My mind rallies to stop this nonsense and fight back. Fight back with what? I must still go to the hospital in a couple hours so they can pump copious amounts of poison in my son’s body. The professionals have already taken a preemptive stance expecting that stupid cancer to come back. Jesus! I want to be done! No more! I want this to be over! There is no doubt that You Lord are the One and Only One who has healed our son’s body even the doctors revel in his good health after enduring so much! Where is the finish line? Why all the talk and discussion about recurrence? Bone marrow transplant? Immunotherapy? I know that Love came down and rescued me so where is my escape? I want to celebrate Christmas at home again with time to bake cookies, wrap those few presents and enjoy my children and family that you have so graciously blessed me with? What am I missing? Have I done something wrong? Have I taken a turn that has led me off course? Where is the finish line?

Romans 1:16-17 (NLT)
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

The battle that I fight is for my faith. When all human strength is gone and I can no longer help the Lord – will I still trust with confident hope that what He promised to do will come to pass even when I cannot do it myself. I have finished the race to completion accepting things that do not turn out the way I expect I keep going knowing that He perfects that which concerns me and turns every detail into something good. I have remained faithful. God makes us right in His Sight. There is nothing I can do to contribute to my salvation whatsoever. All I can do is respond to His Great Love for me by sacrificing my life to serve Him. I give my life to much less every day including people and my job for starters without hesitation but the thought of giving the One who died for me more is not appealing. If I love the Lord, I must trust Him. Love is a commitment. It is a relationship that God desires with His People and requires to receive righteousness. A trip to a crowded altar overwhelmed with emotion will not do it anymore than a one-night stand constitutes a marriage. It is a daily endeavor until death do us part. I am married. I have made this commitment to my husband and work daily to maintain it. It has become much easier the closer to the Lord we become because God is love. I can love my husband more completely as I live to serve the Lord now that I have experienced real love. The Power of God is now at work in me. It drives me to fight for my faith just to encounter God more. It pushes me to the finish line as He blesses and prospers my life. It allows me to remain faithful within my warring flesh. It is through this thing called faith that I find life when I cross the finish line.

I have fought the good fight.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 (NLT)
All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Is the water half full or half empty? On those days when you feel like Noah building the ark with no sign of rain, remember you are fighting a good fight. Just because others do not understand your dedication and devotion to your Lord does not mean that God is not working in and through your life. Our son has had cancer four different times now. I am frustrated with the recurrence but not my God. The enemy has dared enter a sacred place and rather than give up – he should have known that I would fight back. My instincts as a mother are fierce and I will fight to the death for my children. The Lord has declared to be our son’s Healer and has proven it four times now. I am not ready for a fifth, but to hear “It is finished!” In the meantime, I will live a life in training. I will not back down from this stance of faith…ever. The price is more than I am willing to pay. I want the Love of God is its entirety not only for my life but for the life of every generation to follow from my children to my grandchildren and on. They will need faith more than I and all of God’s Favor for the end times approach and the enemy will fight harder than ever to take them with him. I must run with purpose in every step. Even today when I feel like I am crawling at war with myself. I must make every single knee jerk with the intent of knowing God more and following His Way. You can give up if you want to, but I have come too far to turn back now. You can stop watching because you feel sorry for us, but only those who do not have faith will do this because believers know that He is about to come and declare a winner to the Glory of God. I may be down now. You may be feeling the same way. I believe that when I am in this position and write from it that there is someone contemplating giving up or throwing the towel in. Don’t you dare do it. In the Name of Jesus Christ, we are going get up and fight this fight together even with tired arms and weak knees. Our life depends on it. Our children need us to do it. There is a world who is watching that needs the faith we are fighting for right now! Discipline your mind, soul and body to stay in the Word, continue in prayer and keep walking by faith. You need to worship in Spirit and Truth because each depends on the other as Jesus Christ put them together. Our life is worth absolutely nothing unless we finish that which is assigned to us by Jesus Christ to love the Lord and one another. (Acts 20:24) It is by faith that we discover life – real life. Life that leads to something other than death and the grave, if you want it be ready to fight for it. He didn’t say it would be easy just that it would be worth it!

I have finished the race.

Ecclesiastes 9:10-11 (NLT)
I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.

I have to finish the race. I cannot decide to stop in the middle and declare it a win. God’s Plan is complete and lacks no good thing, my plan will generally stop at the edge of my comfort zone and declare a compromising victory rather than wait on God’s Best. When things get rough, we tend to quit. No one is willing to press on anymore. You will press on when it is a matter of life and death. Hey, it is a matter of life and death. You have to finish the course to be found faithful in the end, not your way, but God’s Way. Jesus is the ONLY WAY to righteousness. You cannot avoid the Cross no matter how horrific or step over the Blood no matter how gruesome. If this offends you then I am sorry, but your sin offends God and you will not be permitted to stand in His Presence until His Grace has become sufficient and acceptable to you! You cannot even enter the race with His Love, Mercy and Grace because you cannot afford to pay your way. Therefore you do not dictate the course of the race, but He promise new mercy and unfailing love to get you through every single leg of this race so you will cross the finish line and receive the prize – salvation and eternal life belong to you if you finish. You do not have to be the strongest runner or the fastest. You do not have to break every record in the book. You just have to make it. It is up to me to decide whether or not I will run to win. (I Corinthians 9:4) If you are investing any effort in your salvation with a particular interest in having God’s Best, then you will make this a lifestyle and not just a hobby. Hobbyist will dabble in Christianity, but those who choose faithfulness as a lifestyle lay it all on the line. They have considered the cost and decided to pay it forward. (Luke 14:28-29) I have decided to “do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.” (Philippians 2:14-17) I have come too far to turn back now. I refuse to thing that I have run this race in vain. My work will not be consider useless when inspected in the end because I will finish this race even if it takes my very last breath…which it will!

I have remained faithful.

2 Timothy 3:14 (NLT)
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.

God’s Word will come to pass in your life. It is true. Every single written and spoken word in your life from God’s Mouth to your life will happen by faith. You cannot give up on His Word or you will not have it. Faith attaches us to the promise, hope keeps us there until it comes. You must remain faithful until it arrives. His Word cannot and will not return void or empty in our life or that makes God a liar. (Isaiah 55:11) If He lied once, then you can toss out your Bible and forget about hope because there is none. (Numbers 23:19) If you think God has broken a promise, chances are that we did not remain faithful to the end. God will finish the work that He has begun in you if you are willing to be faithful to Him. (Philippians 1:6) Otherwise, we have probably chosen something other than God’s Best. When my children were little and insistent on doing something there own way, many times I would allow them to do it just so they could see their error and then listen to my instruction. Oh, how many times I tell the Lord that “I will do it myself” only to return humbly and admit I couldn’t do it at all. Finishing is better than starting…patience is better than pride. (Ecclesiastes 7:8) This may just have become my life verse for today! “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Pride tells me that enough is enough. Faith tells me to finish because He is more than enough!

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Stop looking back even if it is to find encouragement in how far that you have come. Here’s why: looking back is like looking down from great heights. The Lord has lifted you out of certain circumstances and suspended you above certain situations by faith and trust in Him. When we look back sometimes it is like looking down and our humanity begins to shake in the midst of our faith. Faith takes us higher than our humanness can survive and fear takes over so we sink like Peter in the waves. Instead, we must strive every single day to let go of the past good and bad to embrace the future that the Lord has prepared for us. I must press to reach the end of the race and secure the prize understanding that the greatest victory is in the end when I meet the Lord face-to-face. He will meet me along the way but my goal is to cross a finish line that as of today I cannot see! Those who remain faithful until the end are saved. (Hebrews 3:13) God knows my heart. He knows that I want to be faithful to the end even though my flesh is telling me to quit and give up. Even on those days I give in to these emotions and my faith seems to be failing, Jesus is always faithful! (2 Timothy 2:12-13) He understands our weaknesses and bore them on the Cross. He endured them as a human being. I must strive to live by faith even when it is manifested in being overcome by weakness. It is in that moment that His Grace becomes sufficient (enough) for me. Faith keeps me in the race. Hope keeps my eyes locked on the finish line through the tears. My body is warring. My mind is racing. My heart is secure! I will not give up today. Lord, strengthen my tired hands and weak knees today. May Your Love consume me in such a manner that those around me will not see my broken heart but faithful Savior who is with me to the end. (Matthew 28:20) I must fight the good fight! I must finish the race! I must be found faithful! Lord, show me the finish line today!

Here it is…

Revelation 21:5-7 (NLT)
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

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