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The end of this Zwift race is the hardest part!
Finishing strong in faith and life!
Recently, my family got me a stationary bike at home to ride all year long. I had been wishing for one since I heard about Zwift. I love the idea of levelling up my low-polygon rider and customizing my kit and bikes! It is the perfect combination of what I love about riding and gaming!
I wish I could ride every day for hours on end, but my old unconditioned Michelin-shaped body would not be able to do that! Unlike Warzone, I can only level up at the pace of my body, not the amount of time I am willing to sit in front of my keyboard. To add to this limitation, some of the events and races are deceptively difficult for a newbie like me.
On one occasion, I was looking for a short and easy ride, and I came upon a seemingly appropriate 16 km event. But, to my own fault, I dismissed the event's title, which clearly states this will be a hill climb: a hill climb for mountain goats! As it turns out, this one-hour-long ride became one of the most brutal and challenging rides I have foolishly taken on. At one point, at the final 1 km of the event, I was climbing between 14-17% grade, and for a moment, I had thought about stopping. That last 11 minutes of climbing nearly got the best of me, and I was tempted to stop pedalling. I was tempted because I had thought the end would be easier. I expected the hardest part would be around the 2/3 part of the course, not at the very end of the ride.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I expect life to be easier near the end also. That the hardest part—the most challenging part of life—would be in my 30s-40s, and then I can start winding down near the end with my pensions and cruises. Yet, as I survey the Bible and even modern-day Christians, what I found is the complete opposite. The hardest part is at the end; the most challenging part of our life is whether we can finish strong, especially in our faith.
Paul captures this as he expresses his own life to his protege, Timothy. He wanted Timothy to know what was at stake and how he should finish. He writes in 2 Timothy 4:7-8,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Even though Paul was in his old age, he was not about to stop pedalling. He knows the most challenging part is at the end, and how he finishes will speak to the glory that awaits him. The ending is a vital part of his testimony!
Today, we don't always see good endings by Christians, and many testimonies are marred by hidden sins and lukewarm endings; Life that often ends with a whimper than a spark.
So how can we avoid such endings? I believe the first action we need to take is to prayerfully ask God to help us discern our mission in life. Paul knew his purpose and mission at the beginning of his conversion and ministry. He knew his goal was to preach the good news to the Gentiles, and he finished his race with clarity. He adapted his strategies and methods as he aged and as circumstances befall him but he never wavered from his mission. Second, Paul was also prepared; Paul expected this race to be difficult from beginning to end. He knew this because it is also what Jesus had experienced in his ministry. Persecution, hardship, and suffering are all part of keeping the faith and participating in the Mission of God. Jesus had taught this throughout his ministry, but the question for us is, are we expecting it and are we prepared for it?
And so my encouragement for you today is to take aim at how you plan to finish your life. I am not asking how you want to die—that's kinda morbid—but how you imagine yourself as you age; what will you be doing in the different seasons of life? How will you participate in God's kingdom as your energy and resources change?
Take some time to consider how God had designed you, what He had blessed you with, and where He has placed you today. Make a draft or a ‘rule of life’ and place it on the altar before God; Let God have the final say.
You may have heard this say, "if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time." I will add one more bit to it, "if you plan to finish your race strong, aim to pedal the hardest at the end."
I pray you will finish strong and finish in faith. Amen.