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Today’s Truth

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”

2 Timothy 4:7

Friend to Friend

I sat by her bed.

Her hand swollen…full…unmoving.

Feet that danced just a few weeks ago now stilled. Arms that lifted just a short time ago now limp. Words that spilled easily just a moment ago now halted. How could life seep away so quickly, right before my eyes?

Mom was ready. But I wasn’t.

Mom called to tell me she was going to the emergency room. She had abdominal pain and couldn’t stop throwing up. I had just been at her house four days before, and this was something new.

“She has an ileus,” the doctor explained. “Part of her intestines have stopped working. But her heart isn’t strong enough to survive surgery. If her intestines don’t start working on their own, she will die.”

Four weeks into the sitting and waiting, it looked like Mom was going to get to go Home. Not to her little brick house in the colonial neighborhood…the one with cedar shingles, cobblestone street, and white picket fence where she had lived for more than 25 years, but her home in a celestial neighborhood with familiar faces, golden streets, and the presence of God. Mom was ready. She had been planning the party for quite sometime.

I gently held her fluid-filled hand. Sky-blue eyes looked off into the distance. Her mind replaying bits and pieces of life.

“Mom, whatcha thinking about?” I asked.

“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish,” she whispered.

“Who told you that?” I asked with a knowing smile.

“You did,” she replied.

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you more,” she countered.

Mom had regrets. We all do…if we’re honest. But she finished well. She had made sure that her grandkids, extended family, and I knew we were loved. She had made preparations of her passing as easy as possible for me, the lone child responsible for all the details. She loved Jesus and was thrilled to get to see Him face to face.

The last week of her life, I was having a bit of a crying spell. Mom had requested the doctors remove all the machines, all the tubes, all the medications. “Comfort care.” That’s what they called it.

“Well Mom, it looks like you’re going to get to see Jesus before I do.”

And in a quick wit that served her well to the end, she teased with a twinkle in her eye, “Are you jealous?”

And to be honest…I was.

We never know when our last day on this earth will be. But here’s what we do know—we have a choice right now, today, to finish well. Your new start to the finish could begin today. Regardless of your past mistakes and missteps, weakness and failures…regardless of how you started this race, you can decide to begin your finish well.

Let’s Pray

Lord, I have made so many mistakes in my life. A trail of regrets lie behind. But praise You I’ve chosen to leave them behind and not carry them into my future. No matter how I started, I pray that You will give me the wisdom and the power to finish well.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read this passage and note what Paul said about his decision to finish well:

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward [reaching forward] what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

What part does forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead play in finishing well?

More from the Girlfriends

What do you do with those regrets in your life? I say lets turn those miserable messes into magnificent messages of hope. Want to learn more about finding peace and purpose in the hurts of your past? Check out my book, Your Scars are Beautiful to God. It comes with a Bible study guide for groups or individuals who want to go deeper.

4 Responses to “It’s Not How You Start. It’s How You Finish”

  1. Brenda says:

    Eighteen months ago, I was having those pangs of jealousy. My very fit husband just received a terminal diagnosis. His first words we that he had a good life and no regrets. I knew I was over at that point and he was not going to fight for healing. He was home, not only to see Jesus but to meet the babies that were miscarried. I always thought we would be together for the Rapture.
    Glad to hear that I was not the only one to feel those pangs of jealousy.
    That’s what we all want- to hear our Lord say that we finished well. Job well done.

  2. PENNY says:

    This devotion so touched my heart. March 1st we suddenly & totally unexpectedly lost my daddy. Massive heart attack!! My daddy was our entire family’s tower of strength. We have struggled with this loss & the idea of my sweet mama being alone most of the time. I am with her every possible chance I get. But due to a full time job & family of my own, my time is limited. Plus she doesn’t expect or want me hovering over her 24/7.
    It was said during this time that my daddy had been working toward this day all of his life & he knew exactly what the next step was. He knew the next breath, after he told my mama he loved her at the hospital, would be taken in the presence of Jesus. We have held to the promise that we will see him again & that is what has kept us.
    Many times during this difficult time, I have been told “You are truly your daddy’s daughter”. I have held it together & been strong when needed but fell apart & totally lost it a few times as well. It is during these times I just keep reminding myself of THAT PROMISE!!!
    This devotion was so needed today & such a welcome. Thank you so much for sharing this & all of the other ones. I often share these with cousins of mine who have stood by me & held me when I was basically inconsolable. We can never take for granted our next breath. It doesn’t belong to us.
    God Bless you Ladies & please keep up the good work!

  3. Correen says:

    This devotional, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”, was emotional for me. It is probably the single most difficult issue I struggle with, besides my depression. Maybe it’s part of the circle leading to my depression,…I don’t know. I have allowed myself to “be forgiven” and leave some of my messes and hurts in the past. The real struggle is when it comes to my children, and the negative effect that my poor choices have had on them. I can’t fix what impact my choices have had, nor make up for it all. I know that I haven’t been a horrible mother. I’m not a criminal, drug addict, or alcoholic. I’m not abusive, but I haven’t been as loving and present as they deserved and needed. How do you forgive the “issues” and hurt you’ve caused your own children. I pray for them every day, that they find true happiness in a relationship with the Lord. I pray that God puts someone in their lives to lead them to Him. I try to show them by example, by the way I love and live for God now. 3 of my children are adults and they show no interest. My example should have been a lot sooner in their life, and it’s difficult to not have guilt and regret over that.

  4. Gabrielle says:

    My mom went home to be with Jesus last October. I know exactly how you feel
    and how you felt at the time of her passing into her new life. I used almost exactly the
    same words. I told her that I wished I could come with her and was jealous that
    she was going to see Jesus before me. She only had the strength to smile when I told her that. Moms are such a blessing. Jesus knew that,
    which is why we have such a special place in His heart. He truly loved women.
    I pray that I will finish well too! Thank you for all of your encouraging devotions.
    You are so appreciated.

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8