In the year 2000, $32M (thirty-two million dollars) had been raised to produce the movie - The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The cast was hired, including Johnny Depp in the lead role, a director appointed, and budget allocated. Shooting commenced. It was to be the biggest European film ever made. After one week of filming, a support actor developed a double herniated disc and the director, Tony Gilliam, scrapped the project. While I haven't yet spent $32M on any of my unfinished projects, I do have several unfinished projects. But the difference between me and Mr Gilliam is that I intend to finish each of my currently unfinished projects. Do you? The answer to that question is increasingly determined by which generation you belong to.
This is the generation that starts things. Dishes get put in the sink. Degrees get started. New books begun to be read. Diets commence. Exercise regimes get implemented. Books begin to be written. New Year's resolutions get made. People commit to walking with Christ. But this might be the generation that struggles to finish well.
Gyms today happily sell more memberships than they could possibly cater for, because they know that most gym members will turn up just after they sign up - but after a short while, they will stop coming (despite having to pay their monthly membership fee). Do you know people that start things with gusto but soon lose heart and then fail to finish?
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Second Timothy 4:7
In 1968 at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, John Akhwari from Tanzania was competing in the Marathon. Unaccustomed to running at such altitudes, he cramped badly. Then at the 19 kilometer point during the 42 km race he was bumped by other runners and fell badly and dislocated his knee. His shoulder was also injured in the fall. He continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race (75 had started). The winner finished in 2:20:26. Akhwari finished in 3:25:27 after sunset, when there was only a few people left in the stadium. As he crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, "My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race."
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish"
While referring to Olympic Marathons, some of us might remember the remarkable scenes of the 1984 LA Olympic Games, where the Women's Marathon was introduced to the Games.
It's not how you start out in life, it's how you finish - just ask Steven Bradbury! (He's the guy in the dark green in this video below.)
And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.
It takes endurance, patience and persistance to finish. Each of those qualities is a character trait. You can't borrow them. You can't delegate them. You can't even fake them! Finishing things strengthens your character to be able to finish other things. That's why it's important to finish even the little things that you start - because it's the little things that make you a bigger person.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
There is tremendous satisfaction that comes from finishing. The other week our family went to one of our favourite Tasmanian holiday spots: Wine Glass Bay. We have been there many times and camped there overnight several times. But Ruby has never quite walked unaided over the Hazards and back. As we walked along, she began to struggle and lag. I reached down to pick her up (as I have always done previously) but she immediate refused and demanded to be allowed to walk all by herself. This was not obstinance. This was the spirit of a finisher.
Talk to anyone who has learned to finish, and they'll tell you that it involves a certain plodding and a certain amount of pain. The student who is committed to finishing their assignments on time will often have the pain of not joining their friends in the mall to catch the latest movie. The husband and father who is committed to finishing the regular maintenance routine around his home will have the pain of not joining his mates who have gone out finishing for the day. The woman who has committed to finishing her diet will experience the pain of watching her girlfriends eat her favourite dish as they catch up for their regular café date. The pastor who is committed to finishing his call will experience the pain that comes from labouring week after week to research, prepare, and produce a sermon which he hopes will be received by his congregants eager to be discipled, when he could instead be playing computer games or off to the footy. Anda couple who have lost their original interest in each other will experience the pain that comes from remaining committed to a set of vows they intend to finish until death do they part.
Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it.
Second Corinthians 8:11 MSG
Finishing takes practice. Finishing takes character. Finishing often hurts.
Is this generation one that doesn't like the tediousness of practicing? Has this generation has been tricked into thinking thatsuccess is the same as significance - and therefore that talent outweighs character? Is a generation emerging where pain is avoided at all costs with amusements, medication, self-harm, or denial? Could this generation be the "unfinished generation"?
I wonder if there are any members of this generation who will go against this strong cultural tide, pay the price, and live out First Corinthians 10:31? If so, will you commit to finishing well? If you will, you could inspire your generation to finish well - to endure, persist, and press on. You don't need me to tell you what a difference this would make to marriages, families, businesses, communities, organisations, cities - and churches! But I'm not quite finished yet.