5 Encouragements to finish well spiritually Posted on July 3, 2018July 9, 2018 by Celia Bowring The aspirations of those competing in the World Cup and Wimbledon are fresh in my mind. All those hours of gruelling preparation put to the test. The aspirations of those competing in the World Cup and Wimbledon are fresh in my mind. All those hours of gruelling preparation put to the test. As we cheer on athletes and competitors like them, what of our own aspirations to finish the race of faith well? What will it take for us to receive the trophy of God’s ‘Well done!’ at the end of life’s tournament? Here are 5 encouragements to take you on your way. 1. Don’t quite the race There’s a certain temptation to regard the afterwork years as more of a time to hang up your spiritual tennis shoes than lace them back up. Or, in cycling terms, to coast downhill rather than keep pushing the peddles. Yet our after-work stage of life has plenty going for it when it comes to becoming more like Jesus. Of course you’ll hopefully have the time for a whole host of activities. But the encouragement to ‘Seek first the kingdom of heaven’ still holds as we get older. 2. Remember the winners of the past We must never forget we’re part of God’s ageless kingdom. Those who have gone before us and finished well – the should be an encouragement for us to do the same. Thankfully it’s not all down to us – because the Holy Spirit equips and empowers us when we ask. But it takes our own commitment to stick at the Christian life with the finishing line in sight. ‘Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.’ Hebrews 12;1 The Message 3. Finish well It’s a sad day when we hear of someone who’s followed Jesus all their lives letting it all slip at the end. And we are all at risk here. We may not fall to one of the big 3 – money, sex and power. But there’s also the more subtle traps of resentment, envy, laziness, indifference and self-indulgence and the like. The Apostle Paul urges us; ‘being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 1: 6. God won’t fail us but the trials of later life might make it a struggle for us not to fail him. So ‘be wise and watchful and’ keep on keeping on’. 4. Please the coach Top seeds, with a tennis racquet in hand, love just to bask in the cheers of the crowd. But they are wise to which of the spectators matter the most. It’s their coach. In the same way, it is natural to seek the approval of family and friends for the way we do life. But no one matters more than our Great Coach and his approval. So keep the words from Hebrews 13 v 16 in mind – – ‘Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.’ 5. Keep your eye on the prize It’s an epic Wimbledon moment when, with all the ball girls and boys lined up, the Duke of Kent shakes the winners’ hands and presents their trophies – along with a nice fat cheque. There’s a day coming for all of us who have followed Jesus when something very similar happens in the courts of heaven. You might picture it as a great stadium with angels doing the Mexican Wave as you receive your victory crown and hear the ‘well done’. The Apostle Paul had a similar picture in mind, taken from the athletic events of his day when he said, ‘athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one’.1 Corinthians 9.25. That’s right. We press on because our reward will never fade – or be stolen or sold on eBay. The race we run has a prize that is for ever. So keep on running. A certain Mr MacEnroe – turning 60 soon – once yelled at the umpire ‘You can’t be serious!’ But we can be serioius – and should be serious – about running the spiritual race and finishing well. Let’s do it. Celia Bowring Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother! Have you joined our Facebook group yet? It’s a great way to share the journey with other after-workers.