Beginning a new venture is exciting. People take pictures of the first day of everything. Some businesses frame the shovel that first broke the ground or the first dollar that was earned. Others celebrate with grand openings, parties, and social media blitzes. Everyone can name dozens of new things being started all around them.
Getting started is significant. The determination to begin is needed for success. But let me ask you an honest question, “How many projects have you started that you were not able to finish?” While we might be able to tell you all the exciting new things going on around us, we can also tell you of all those that ended without any fanfare.
Success is not starting well; it is finishing strong. This is true in life but especially important in the life of faith. Jesus tells a parable in the gospel of Matthew chapter 13 about four types of soil. All of them receive seeds. Three of them have the plant start growing. Only one makes it to harvest. Only one produces fruit in the fall and brings the farmer joy.
I love conversion stories, baptisms, and new people at Church. I also long for a Church full of senior adults who have endured to the end. When I was young in ministry, I only liked the new, but now I love the old as well. Maybe that is because so few make it to the finish line of faith.
Finishing requires trust, grit, endurance, patience, grace, and strength of will. Today I am thankful for the people who have walked the road of faith for a lifetime. Most of them will not be celebrated, but they are the real heroes in our Churches. This is the time of year we celebrate people finishing all kinds of schooling, and we must remember those who are accomplishing something far more significant. Maybe this weekend, when you see someone who is ending a life of faith strong, be sure to tell them how much you admire them. They are the goal, and we must never lose sight of that – or them.