Do you know anyone who is graduating this month? May tends to be the main month for graduations, be that kindergarten, High School, college, etc. So this month can have a celebratory feeling to it, as we applaud what people have accomplished and celebrate crossing various finish lines.
Getting to a finish line of any sort is important, and when you think about it, there are all kinds of finish lines. In elementary school, we had Field Day, where we crossed the finish line for a 50-yard sprint, and maybe we had a longer run, like a mile, that required different pacing. In college, we cross the finish line in different classes, some of which are easy, and others are nothing but intense struggle. Finish lines can be races for swimming, biking, etc. Such races include winners and finishers. A finish line can also be the completion of a work project or goal that might require teamwork and communication skills. And sometimes, the journey to a finish line is circuitous, demands endurance (to outlast the challenge), and requires concerted focus and steady progress.
When we think about people who crossed finish lines in the Bible, there’s no shortage of examples and very helpful lessons we can employ from these individuals. For example, when I think of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt after the tenth plague, I can’t help but think that maybe he sighed in relief. It’s possible that he thought he’d crossed a massive finish line to bring an entire nation out of slavery. But WAIT!!! What about the Red Sea? And how about Pharaoh’s army bearing down on this vulnerable nation of newly liberated slaves? It seems to me that the Israelites had escaped the proverbial frying pan only to be thrown into the fire of possible annihilation by drowning or slaughter. If you’ve read this story, you remember that God miraculously intervened, parted the Red Sea, and drowned Pharaoh’s army. Crossing a finish line doesn’t mean that we can exhale and settle into a breezy life, eating peeled grapes and living without pressures and crises.
In another example from the Bible, we read Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” When I think about Paul’s race, I’m reminded that he had a massive course correction on the Damascus Road in Acts 9. The divine intervention that Saul / Paul experienced forced him to reconsider his goals, the path of his life, his values and his pursuits. Paul thought that he was doing the right thing, but the divine intervention let him know that he needed to recalculate his trajectory and get on God’s page. This makes me pause and consider that what could be good with humans may not be God’s endgame. To that end, let’s be willing to let God make course corrections and help us to run the right race and not just pursue what feels good to us or makes sense based on religion or conventional thinking.
Finally, I think the best biblical example of someone crossing the finish line is Jesus. And there’s no doubt that we can take away a plethora of lessons from Jesus’ example of crossing the finish line. It’s helpful to remember what it says in Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.“ Getting to a finish line can sometimes be a painful, even brutal, journey. But let’s see Jesus as our example, who endured the horrific brutality because He was confident that there was something better on the other side of His suffering. When we keep this in mind, perhaps we can say with Jesus when we get to a finish line, “It is finished.” Recognizing that life can get better and there will be a fresh sunrise in the morning.
No matter the race that you’re running, no matter the hardship or struggles that you’re enduring, no matter your fatigue or discouragement, there’s a finish line that God has organized for you. Let’s determine to trust that God loves us and is helping us to finish well and strong! If you’re graduating this month or soon, happy graduation to you!