Why You Should Hang Up Your Robe
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me..." Acts 20:24 (NIV)
My first instinct was to leave the clean, folded clothes on top of the dresser. Granted, my arms were filled with freshly laundered items, so it would have been difficult to open the drawer while balancing the stack. I had an excuse for leaving them on top. Didn't I? Instead, I pushed past my instinct, took 30 more seconds, and placed the clothes neatly in the drawer.
This tendency to not complete a task happens with surprising regularity. I toss my bathrobe on the bed, drape jeans on the tub, and set the television remote on the nearest counter top. However, sometimes, when I'm a bit more self-aware, I take the few extra steps needed to actually finish the task.
Years ago, I realized my practice of stopping short of finishing what I started led to a cluttered home and office. Back then, I had a multitude of unfinished tasks that I just lived with. It wasn't all simple things like putting away clothes, but included larger tasks like leaving a wall half painted.
Starting a project is fun, and usually involves a burst of energy. Then, that energy wanes as I approach the finish line. Instead of pushing to complete the task, assignment or project with excellence, I lean towards settling for good enough. Unfortunately, when I settle for "good enough" consistently, I learn to live with mediocrity. And accepting mediocrity is far from where God wants me to be. You see, finishing what we start is more than a good organizational or home management skill. It's also a spiritual discipline.
As I identified the tendency to settle, I realized it affected me in a variety of ways throughout my life. In the past I accepted a distant relationship with God rather than one of intimacy. I've limited my understanding of Scripture to a surface level. My relationships with others have gone no deeper than, "Hi, how are you doing?" Instead of pushing to explore the fullness of what God offers in all areas, it is easier to stop short. Perhaps it's safer. Simpler. And with less personal discomfort or inconvenience.
Interestingly, it's actually been somewhat easy to address this issue. I admit the tendency within myself to settle, and I get firm with myself about it. Now, when I would prefer to leave the dryer full of clothes, or emails half typed, I say to myself, "Finish what you start." I make a conscientious decision to finish the task at hand before I move on to something new. Obviously, there are some projects that require more effort, but this works on many of my issues.
I'm not sure of all the reasons for stopping short of finishing with excellence, but I do know the results. I end up with unfulfilled commitments, open loops and shallow relationships. That's a far cry from the life Jesus came to bring, which is full and abundant. Not a partial life, but one lived with pushing to the limits and exploring the outer reaches.
Maybe that seems a deep principle to pull from putting clothes in a drawer or a dirty bowl in the dishwasher. However, the discipline of finishing well is one that is woven through my life...or it's not.
So I guess I'll take the extra step and actually hang up my robe. It's one more stitch in this tapestry of finishing well that God is trying to create in my life.
Dear Lord, thank You for demonstrating finishing well through the life of Jesus. I know Jesus could have stopped short of paying the price for my salvation. But He didn't. For that I will be eternally grateful. Please help me push through mediocrity in my life and explore the fullness You long to bring. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Identify one home or office task that would take you less than 30 minutes to finish. Commit to finishing this in the next five days.
What are some reasons I avoid finishing certain tasks?
Could procrastination reflect a deeper spiritual issue for me?
John 19:30, "When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (NIV)
Genesis 2:2, "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." (NIV)