Wednesday, March 13, 2013

30 Days With Wesley: The Middle

Starting things is easy.  At least, for me it is.  Most of the time, anyway.  I like to get started on new or different things.

Finishing things is easy.  At least, for me it is.  Most of the time, anyway.  Who doesn't like to see the last Lego brick to complete a set go into place, or the last box in a moving truck to come out, or the final penny of a debt get paid?  I love to finish things off.

Of course there it that phrase, "it's not how you start, it's how you finish."  And...that's usually true.  What ultimately matters in anything we do is to finish well, regardless of how bumpy or rocky things may have become along the way.

But...being able to finish well is very much dependent upon how well you stuck things out in that place that isn't so easy:  The middle.  At least, for me it isn't.  Most of the time, anyway.  I get bored...distracted...tired...complacent...and a host of other things, in the middle of things.

So, what about you?  Are you best at starting...finishing...or the middle?

I think there are many people who claim the title "Christian" who loved getting started (their first experience of recognizing the presence of God with them in their lives, which often can be what modern Christians term "getting saved").  And there are many who look forward to the day of completion when all things are renewed by Christ (to the point that many are, for all intents and purposes, sitting on a hillside, staring up into the sky, waiting for Jesus to appear...and doing nothing to advance the Kingdom here and now in the daily reality of the world we live in).

Christian like to start.  And they like to finish.

Many seem averse to the middle.

I get it.  I have a feeling it might be a part of human nature.

I mentioned the other day about my "momentum" t-shirt: "He starts...he finishes."

That's great.  But inside those ellipses are a great many middling days that don't have the fresh excitement of starting new or the climactic anticipation of finishing well.

Today's optional Scripture reading in "30 Days With Wesley" comes from Romans chapter 12:

"Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:13-21).

I believe that there are a great many Christians who might become Jesus-disciples who transform the world and whom God uses to bring about God's Kingdom here and now, redeeming, renewing, and transforming creation into all that God desires for it - and or us - to be.  If...we lived like Paul instructs Jesus-disciples to live in the passage above from Paul's letter to the Roman church.  These are the kinds of things we do in the middle, that we might honor the new start God gave us, and fulfill the Great Commission Jesus commanded us to live out.

How is your middle looking, today?

If you don't tend to the middle, you'll never be able to finish well.

And speaking of finishing...remember...that looks a little different in God's Kingdom than in the kingdoms of this world.  If you want to finish well...start wherever you are...tend to the middle...and finish last...

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