By: Jana Greene
My mother used to call it “petering out”.
“You’re always starting things without finishing them,” she would say. “you just peter out.”
Oh, how hard I try not to “peter-out”!
I start out strong, and by ‘strong’, I mean obsessive-compulsively. I gorge myself with information about any given pursuit, lunging into it with enthusiasm. I will go the distance!
It makes no difference what the pursuit might be. Below is an incomplete list of projects I have begun without finishing (what…you expected a complete list?) :
Yoga: This routine involved a DVD set in which I was to emulate the “poses” of unnaturally flexible people. Thinking this excercise might be good for a tightly-wound person such as myself, I went all-out. I bought the mats – and, I am sorry to say – two pairs of spandex pants. (The mats are now rolled up decoratively under our living-room coffee table, so that a passer-by might think I am fitness-minded….if this passer-by were not to see my actual body. I’ve no idea where the spandex pants are and if God is merciful, I will never see them again.)
Gardening: This one is a real embarrassment because it seems I have actually failed more times than I’ve tried, if that were possible. I plant flowers in the spring, carefully considering the nutrient needs of each kind (ok, glancing at the tag at Home Depot…sun or shade?) and lovingly transferring into the soil. Inevitably, each precious plant dies a slow and choking death by thirst and weed. Yet, each new Spring, I forget that I don’t really like dirt. By the first hot summer day, I remember that I don’t like heat either, and that I would have to stand in the hot sun watering plants all summer if I expect them to live. I don’t, so they don’t.
Laundry: I love to do laundry! That is, I love to start the process. I forget that the clothes have to be transferred into the clothes dryer after being washed. The result is that the clothes either start to smell funky and have to be re-washed, or my husband has to complete the cycle. I just forget that laundry is in process (Really, Honey….I meant to finish it!)
Bible Study: Ouch! This one is hard to own. I join groups with the best of intentions, but often end up dropping out. Help me to focus, Lord, has become my prayer. The initial propulsion is strong and forward-moving, but I am fickle, impatient and horribly inconsistent.
For reasons I cannot begin to understand, God picked me for His team anyway.
We’ve all heard that the “road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I can testify that the roads to frustration, disappointment (and abdominal fat) are too.
What about the daily grind of getting through life with faith-intact? What about losing interest in the mundane aspects, and giving up altogether on the difficult things? Many times during this long faith-walk of mine, I have flat-out told God, “I can’t do this! You have the wrong girl!” Or, I fall behind and hope no-one will notice, with the mindset that this is too hard. Because sometimes, truly, it is. We cannot see the finish line; we have no tangible evidence that it exists, but we are commanded (in the words of “Journey”): Don’t stop believin’. Thats the “faith” part.
I have a dear friend who is a runner. As it turns out, there is an entire sub-culture of people who engage in running – voluntarily – and with no large, predatory animals in pursuit! This friend trains relentlessly to run in marathons where the goal is to cross the finish line. Sometimes a trophy is awarded, but often the only recognition is completion. There is no prize for crossing the starting line.
“I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line,” she told me. “I always know that I will finish, even if I have to walk. When I start a race, I start with the end in mind. And when the finish line is in sight, I push even harder. There is no turning back.”
My prayer is that my spirit will do what my mind and body refuse to – go the distance without “petering out”. God tells us that we can follow Him with the sure-footedness of an Olympic athlete so long as we study the way that Jesus did it Himself, never losing sight of where he was headed. My friend, The Runner, understands that more than most.
Even if we have to walk, we finish.
No turning back. No petering out.
1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! – Hebrews 12 1:3 (The Message)