I have a drawer in my a nightstand that has a cross stitch I started for a Christmas gift in 1999. It's a very sweet poem about gardens and patience and there's a bunny and some little carrots. I also have some pads of drawing paper from when I wanted to start drawing...again. Sometimes, I buy ingredients for recipes I find and then they go bad or I end up using them for something else because I can't get around to cooking from scratch. I'm not always a good finisher.
Not so with Jesus Christ. And thank you, Lord, that Jesus finishes everything He begins. Today I cling to Hebrews 12: 1-2 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
I like these verses. Because they tell me to let some stuff go like guilt and shame of the past. To be brave enough to step over and around sin and to continue running toward a saviour who not only began the work of my faith but that He will finish it! My faith is not my own doing, but His beautiful work. Thankfully, Jesus does not have a drawer, closet or garage filled with hopes and needs like projects cast aside. He steadily continues the work until it is finished. And in the meantime, He despises the evil, shame and condemnation we struggle with daily. We are His cause and the reason He endured the cross.
I ran a race in October and thankfully I did finish. It was a half marathon and the most difficult physical thing I have ever done. I believe giving birth was easier. Giving birth three times was easier! I started that race with a dear friend, Elisabeth. We ran for about 4 miles together and then I slowed down, had to stop to get a rock from my shoe and even walked some. There were some horrible hills! At about mile 7, I switched my running app to text message and quickly banged out a message to tell my husband and daughters I was at at mile 7 and on my way. Every so often he would message me words of encouragement and cheers...he knew I could do it...I wasn't too far...he was proud of me.
There at the finish line, Elisabeth met me and ran into the stadium with me to the finish line. It really was a picture of Christ. Waiting for me and meeting me where I was at and going the rest of the way alongside me. And those who finished before mesmiled and cheered me on, too. My husband and daughters looked on so proudly. It was too much. I felt so slow and weak, I was a mess and I begged them for water.
And so it is with those who go with us and before us. Some start the faith walk strong and keep us good company along the way. And sometimes we get caught up and we stumble and we even stop. Sometimes our faith weakens and we struggle - we watch the strong ones go on. We don't want them to leave us behind but we don't want to hold them back either. It's a real struggle, this faith race.
I'm thankful for Jesus who declared, "It is finished." from the cross. Not only that Death was conquered once and for all but He declared that man no longer had to bear the burden of sin all on himself. That He ran and finished the race for us. That He completed what He began and that by faith, He will continue to complete us.
Sometimes I pull out the cross stitch and comtemplate finishing and it's overwhelming. I might not have right colored floss or remember how to make the stitches just so. And then I put it back for another time and sort of feel bad about myself. But then I look at my shirt and my medal from my half marathon. I can finish something. I can practice and train and be strong and do things even when I'm afraid. I can run alongside a friend or follow her when I am weak and I can be assured she will be there at the finish line, just like Jesus.