It’s Not How You Start but How You Finish
By Rob Jacobs
“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’”
– Luke 23:46 (NIV)
These final words Jesus said before He took His last breath on the cross were actually a prayer to His Father. Jesus was not only implying that the work is done, but He also was saying, here I am, still yielded to You and Your mission, Your purpose for my life.
The manner of death and the words Jesus said fit with what He had said back in John 10:17-18 that no one took His life from Him but that He willingly laid it down. You see Jesus’ death occurred because He willed it! Breathing His last, He voluntarily gave up His life for you and me. Jesus finished well. When you think about it, it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish!
I remember what my Dad, who has been a gospel singer his entire life, used to say to me, “Son, as long as you hit that last note—all’s well that ends well—they won’t remember anything else that happened!”
This is really true in life. Yes, first impressions are important, but the reality is, it’s not nearly as important as how you end a song, or a performance, or a job, or a relationship. It’s all about how you finish!
There are a lot of examples in Scripture of people who started strong but didn’t finish well: Samson, Solomon, and Judas, to name a few. And what do we most remember about their lives? How it began for them or how it ended? Usually how it ended.
One man in scripture who finished well was Stephen. When called to give his testimony on his day in court, Stephen took the opportunity to present the Gospel, to present Jesus. Read Acts 7:54-60. Notice how similar Stephen’s prayer is to what Jesus prayed: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he even prayed for the crowd who was stoning him!
How can people, like Stephen, live for God in excruciating moments like that when their life is on the line? Well, I believe they can do it because they recognize that they (and me and you) are designed for a world to come!
If you don’t keep the eyes of your heart focused on the paradise that’s to come, you’ll try to turn this poor, fallen world into the paradise it’ll never be. All the things that disappoint us now are to remind us that this is not all there is and to cause us to long for what’s yet to come!
My friend, you may cross that finish line wounded or worn from the battle, but you can still finish the race—because it’s not how you start but how you finish!
Rob Jacobs is the high school and college pastor at LowCountry Community Church in Bluffton, S.C.