love a beginning, but it’s the finishing that holds fulfillment
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.
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."
and time again, this has surfaced in my mind.
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
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.
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.
of achieving anything is knowing what we have to give up to get it.
A difficult calculation
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.
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."
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
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?
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
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.
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
Hard races to
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
two central personalities of the New Testament were not only great
beginners, but great finishers as well.
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.
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."
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