Finish the race: realism, contentment & hope
The holidays we celebrate at this time of year are filled with happy memories, joyful gatherings, special traditions and, for us, quietness and deep reflection.
First Thanksgiving compels us evaluate and appreciate all that we have been given in this physical world.
Then comes Christmas when we think about all that we have received when God gave us Jesus – and how we can pass it along to others with that same kind of generosity.
Finally we encounter New Year’s which causes us to ponder what we have done with what we have been given.
Time to ponder is good for our souls.
The Apostle Paul gave us a model for effective reflection when he wrote II Timothy 4:6-8. In this soul satisfying pondering he demonstrated contented realism:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
He acknowledged that his life had been poured out as an offering to God. His time was dwindling away; it had been used up for eternal purposes. Realism is a good thing. The end of the year will come. The end of life will come. We all have less time than we did a year ago. Acceptance of reality can anchor us.
Next he demonstrated hopeful contentment:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
He knew he had not lived perfectly or solved every problem in the world. However, he knew he had intentionally and wholeheartedly pursued God’s ways; he had completed the unique tasks that God had given specifically to him; he had lived faithfully as a representative of Jesus. Wrapping reality in contentment will comfort us.
Then he demonstrated realistic hope:
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
He anticipated what was coming next. He had confident anticipation because his hope was based on the faithfulness of God to fulfill what He had promised. His hope was not resting on his own accomplishments or his own goodness or his own spiritual resume. Focusing on approaching realities strengthens our joy.
What a wonderful model of reflection and soul care to carry through the holidays and into a new year!
Realism: This is where we are; we have much to be thankful for!
Contentment: This is what God has done; we can be at peace with His unfolding plan!
Hope: This is where we are headed; we can celebrate what He has promised as an accomplished reality!
We are thankful that God has put us in a loving faith community of friends and family who anticipate with us what God will do among us as He continues to reveal His plans.