We love a beginning, but it’s the finishing that holds fulfillment
By Dale Turner

   One of life's greatest satis­factions is finish­ing an important task we have undertaken. Many are good start­ers, but not all are good finish­ers. The wayside is full of brilliant people who started fast but lacked stamina.
  When I was a young man, I heard a sermon on Luke 14:30. I have long forgotten the sermon, but I remember the text: "This man began to build and was not able to finish."

  Time and time again, this has surfaced in my mind.

  When I watched the New York Marathon on television, I saw runners far back in the field finishing with honor. The full impact of the text again hit me.

  Counselors know all about this. It is often a sad task and a great challenge for them to encourage those with failures of every kind. It is difficult to see eager enthusi­asm, so evident at the beginning of every endeavor, fade and die.

  There is always the risk that we stress beginnings, even new beginnings, to the neglect of mentioning the joy and value of the race, difficult as it is, and in persevering to the finish line.

  Half of achieving anything is knowing what we have to give up to get it.

  A difficult calculation
  If you are wondering why the man in Luke's gospel didn't finish, turn to the full text. Sometimes we have to infer reasons behind certain stories in the Bible. But in this case, the full story appears, beginning in Verse 28.
  Jesus said, "'For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to com­plete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish."

  There is the rub. Counting the cost of any building, be it a structure, a skill, or a life, is a job for experts. And before most of us begin, we are not experts. We have only a vague concept of what the cost may be, no matter how sincere and thoughtful we are in our endeavor to know.

  Isn’t it strange That princes and kings And clowns that caper In sawdust rings, And common people Like you and me Are builders for eternity?
  Each is given a bag of tools, A shapeless mass, And a book of rules And each must build, Ere life has flown, A stumbling block Or a stepping stone.

By R.J. Sharpe
  The qualities that enable us to live with zeal and enthusiasm vary. We all have our unique skill and abilities, but we also have our own particular temptations to conquer if we are to finish what we start.
  Qualities that make for great beginnings may not be accompanied by those that will enable us to see the job through. As we said before: Good starters and good stayers are not necessarily the same people. To see it through, we need self discipline, patience, steadfastness and perse­verance.

  Hard races to

  All weddings are happy and exciting events. It is living togeth­er that brings the problems. A honeymoon is a short period of adjustment. A marriage is a long one.

  What does it take to begin a marriage? Proper age, a few dollars, a license, physical desire, a sense of adventure and love for each other. Most couples start well, but what does it take to see a marriage through? Fidelity, con­stancy, mutual forbearance, cour­tesy, honesty, forgiveness, a sense of humor and love for each other!

  There are times when it might seem best that a marriage termi­nate, not because divorce is ever good, but because the alternative is so bad. Still, it is sad to see a marriage falter or disintegrate after 20, 25 or 30 years of life together, and to have to say, "This couple began to build, and was not able to finish."

  There are also those who get off to a good start, developing a rational and satisfying religious faith. They begin with seriousness of intent, loyal in attending wor­ship services, faithful in daily prayer and reading the Scriptures, and zealous in practicing their faith in acts of love and kindness.

  Most people who lose their religious faith do not do so with a blowout. It is usually a small leak a transgression here and a neglect there. Before long, they are on the periphery their loyalty, faithfulness and zeal great­ly diminished. They, too, began to build and were not able to finish.

'It is finished'
  The two central personalities of the New Testament were not only great beginners, but great finishers as well.

  As a boy of 12, Jesus said, "I must be about my Father's busi­ness." But his spiritual growth did not end there. Luke reminds us that Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man. Dying at a youthful age, he could say, "It is finished." In a brief 33 years, he had changed the world.

  The apostle Paul, born to parents of affluence and influence, began well with the fine education they gave him. But he continued to grow on his own, by focusing on a goal and by relying on the strength that came from God. In his last hours, from his prison cell, he wrote to his spiritual son, Timo­thy, "The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith."
  Anticipating that the cost of finishing will be a great deal more than we have when we start, the wise will make their plans that way, learning and growing as we go, finding our greatest joy in the journey and the finish.