Finish Your Work
I've been thinking a lot about the need to finish things. Perhaps it is the embarrassing number of unfinished projects that stare at me from every corner of the house.
The ONE crocheted slipper.
The knit sweater waiting for sleeves.
The one and one half baby albums for my FOUR children.
The thousands of unorganized photos.
The unending stacks of unfiled mail.
The laundry baskets of clean, dried and folded laundry. It would only take minutes to put it away, but alas, it sits on the floor, untouched.
What is it about finishing things? Why is it so hard?
In 2 Corinthians 8:11 Paul is writing to the Corinthians and he penned these words:
"Now finish the work so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it,..."
I understand why this verse was written. I know what it is like to get excited about something and begin the task only to find that I lose my enthusiasm somewhere along the way and then it is so very, very hard to finish.
I also know that I am not alone in this weakness. I have seen dusty exercise equipment, weedy flowerbeds and unfinished painting projects at the homes of other people too.
Finishing is hard work. It is weary work.
Some things don't really matter. It isn't going to be a big deal if I never crochet the second slipper.
But what about the four children in my house who are squabbling and teasing and speaking disrespectfully and eating with their mouths open and picking up their food with their fingers when there is a perfectly good fork beside their plate? I grumble, I sigh, I nag but I find it hard to "parent", I find it hard to keep on finishing this task. If parenting is a marathon, then I'm at the point in the race where the muscles are burning, I'm not sure I'm going to make it. Someone hand me a cup of water and cheer me along because I know that the finish line is WAY far away.
Parenting can be tiring at times, but you have to keep going. I realize that I can't quit.
Parenting is tough, but even that task pales in comparison to this one.
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.' I Peter 1:15, 16.
Hold on! Stop the music! How is this fair? I can't even finish the laundry and God asks me to be holy? How am I ever going to manage to accomplish this?
I don't know about you, but when I see my unfinished work I sometimes find it hard to breath. It is a weight on my chest. Some unfinished work I hide in drawers and conveniently forget about it. The 'out of sight, out of mind' trick works for those. Some unfinished tasks can't be hidden away. Things like cooking and parenting and laundry and so I limp along, some days are better than others. Some days I'm really organized and I'm bursting with energy and enthusiasm and there is progress and then there are days where I hit a brick wall and everything seems to stop, but somehow it all keeps moving along bit by bit.
But when I read, "Be holy, because I am holy", I tremble. This isn't a crocheting project that doesn't really matter, this is one of those long term things of eternal significance and truth be told, I know it is impossible. I know how un-holy I am and I've read how holy God is and there is NO WAY that I can be like Him. So the question becomes, "Why bother trying?".
Here is the reason that I have hope for each new day.
...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6
Praise God that it is not up to me to finish the work in me. I know my track record. I know that I have trouble finishing projects and I know that I will never be able to finish a long haul project like becoming holy.
But Jesus, He does finish what He starts. On the cross He announced that His work was "finished". He did it. He made a way of salvation and His saving work in our lives doesn't fizzle out and not quite stretch to the end. He finishes what He begins.
When I read, "Be holy, because I am holy" I do not push up my sleeves and decide that this is something I am going to tackle on my own. All the organization or positive thinking in the world is not going to produce a finished result in this category. This is the sort of thing that gets accomplished by relinquishing all control, by bending my knee to the true Finisher and letting Him do the work in me.
He 'will carry it on to completion', sweet words as I enter a day of unfinished tasks. I have the assurance that God Himself is working in me and He isn't going to quit or grow weary. I am not going to become an unfinished project hidden away in a drawer 'out of sight - out of mind'. "He who watches over you will not slumber;...the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." Psalm 121: 3b, 8.
Wonderful, encouraging words.... Keep going. All is not lost. God finishes what He begins.