“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
Last week, in fulfilling one of my regular functions as a Section Leader, I sent an email to the members of my section community to share an invitational reminder with them that our monthly section party was just days away. In that email, I shared something that I felt would be good to pass along through this blog as well – with a few additional thoughts included.
Beyond my normal vocational roles, I also help coach a local high school football team. One of the things you may not be familiar with as part of a football team is the tradition of holding four fingers high at the start of the fourth quarter of every game. This tradition is meant to be a unifying reminder to everyone on the team, that “it’s the fourth quarter,” now is the time to play flawlessly. If victory, and all that the team has set out to do, is going to be attained, now is the time to dig deep, push beyond the pain and exhaustion of the first three quarters, and fight to the finish – leaving no room for regret.
Scripture speaks into this idea in 2 Timothy 4:7. This is a very familiar scripture to most Christians, as it is the Apostle Paul’s declaration that not only has he functioned well for the first three quarters of his walk with Christ, but that he has finished with the same amount of success – he has accomplished all his goals and attained all that he has sought out to attain. He has fulfilled his calling, and left no room for regrets.
2 Timothy 4:7 is typically understood in the larger context of an individual’s calling; one’s ministry and life assignment given them by God. It is a scriptural reminder to us that we must live well, persevere in obedient faithfulness, and when the end of life’s tunnel is near, we must finish well, maintaining and building upon all that God has given us, and all that predated this season of conclusion. However, for the purpose of this blog, though this is certainly a true and a great reminder for our lives, I want to narrow this thinking down just a bit, and focus on the specific season for which we have just recently entered; the fourth quarter of the 2017 calendar year.
We are not in a football game, but as we have entered October, we have come to the point of the year when it is time to lift four fingers high into the air, and finish well. Thus, I want to encourage two things.
First, I encourage you to look back and consider in your heart what you entered 2017 thinking it was supposed to be? Quietly and calmly pull yourself away from the busyness of life for a few minutes, and prayerfully take an inventory assessment of your year. Consider what the Lord placed on your heart at the years beginning. What is left to attain? What has gone well? What hasn’t gone so well? What has been accomplished, and what is yet to be completed? What, then, can you do this fourth quarter, in all intentionality, to ensure 2017 concludes successfully?
Second, the fourth quarter of the calendar year is also what we call the holiday season. It can be the best season of the year, or, it can be the hardest to endure. The holidays are exciting, full of joy and memories, but they are also distracting, busy, and if anything goes wrong, they can magnify pains and sorrows. Thus, it is important to know exactly what you desire the holiday season to be for you, your family, and those you lead in ministry, and then to be highly intentional in making sure these things take place. This may mean saying no to a few good things to ensure you get the best. It may mean, slowing yourself down, so that you can soak in all the good things the holidays bring. It certainly means to center this season on Jesus, and focus our hearts solely on Him during a time when the world is clamoring for our attention, money, and energy.
In conclusion, then, to finish this year well, we must spiritually raise four fingers high, focusing our attention upon the King, listening intently to His guidance and counsel, and being obedient to His directions and commands. We must unify as Christ’s body, encouraging one another, and supporting each other as we fight for all we have set out to accomplish. We must soak in all the good, and lay anxieties at the cross – casting our cares upon the One who cares. We must draw near to Jesus, and as He faithfully draws near to us, we will find the victory we have sought to find this year.
My friends, let’s conclude this year by Going Deeper and Growing Stronger!