Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Finish Well

So according to news reports coming out today, Brett Favre is going to retire. Again. But this time it's for good. Or maybe not. But one thing we can be sure of is that he's possibly telling his teammates in Minnesota, and the Vikings ownership, that he's done. Maybe.

The Brett Favre saga has become something of a summer ritual over the last few years. And whether or not he'll return this year is unknown. But one thing that is known about him is that when he finally hangs up the cleats for good, he'll go down in history as one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. Love him or hate him, he was always fun to watch. And when he leaves, he'll take some impressive records with him. Brett Favre has thrown more touchdown passes than any other quarterback. He has won more games as a starting quarterback, and started in more consecutive games than any other player at his position-285. To put that into perspective, Favre hasn't missed a day of work in 18 years. In addition, he's thrown for more yards and completed more passes than any other quarterback.

All impressive stats, right? But you wouldn't have figured he would have turned out this way based on how he began. Favre was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons, a pick that the coach at the time didn't want made on Favre. And his first year stats were less than dismal. His first pass in the NFL was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. And his stats for the entire year were just sad; 5 attempts, no completions, 2 interceptions. But obviously, Favre bounced back from this start and went on to become one of the great ones.

What's the point of all this? It reminds us that how we start isn't nearly as important as how we finish. I know that's a cliche, but guess what? It's true. It's true for football, it's true for business, and most of all, it's true for our faith. What matters most as we follow Jesus isn't how we start, it's how we finish.

In Matthew 24:13, Jesus said these remarkable words: "He who endures to the end will be saved." Now don't read over that too quickly. Read it again, and consider what He's saying. Jesus doesn't say, "He who is a member of the right church will be saved. He who gives the most money, or lives the most morally upright life, or has the most dramatic testimony will be saved." He simply says that those who endure will be saved. What does that mean? We have to finish well.

The most important thing in following Jesus is following Jesus. Everyday we have to get up, deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus. Nothing flashy, nothing fancy. Just a daily death to ourselves. A daily surrender to the Lordship of King Jesus. He who endures will be saved.

I've heard many preachers say something like, "If you can go back to a time when you trusted in Jesus, you are saved." Friends, that's not what Jesus says. He isn't interested in a time in the past. He says, "He who endures to the end will be saved." If you trusted Jesus before, you'll be trusting Him now. If you gave Him your heart in the past, He'll have your heart in the present, and in the future. Doesn't mean we won't have times when we stumble into sin or turn away for a moment. But true followers of Jesus will always return to Him. And the promise is that all who endure will be saved. As followers of Jesus, we must finish well. Did you have a rocky start in your walk with Christ? Don't worry about it. Jesus is much more interested in how we finish than how we started. At the end of the day, when we're in the presence of Jesus, it won't really matter how we started, will it? All that will matter is that we finished the race, that we fought the good fight-not perfectly, but consistently. And when we bow before our Great King, when we fall before Him in adoration, basking in the glory of His splendor, all that will matter is that we endured to the end. My friends, let's finish well.

Father, thank You for loving us. Thank You for saving us. Thank You for Your infinite patience with us. Even though we stumble and fall, you continue to lift us up, to give us strength to endure. Help us to finish well. Help us to serve You consistently. Your word is clear-if we endure, we are saved. Give us the strength to endure; and when we can't walk, carry us into Your presence-for Your honor, and for Your glory. Amen.

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