April is officially over. We all know what that means – the countdown to the end of the 2018-2019 school year has begun (if it hasn’t already!). It's the time of year where kids get antsy, students are asking to have class outside, teachers are trying to cram as much information they can into the remaining weeks ahead, year-end activities are trying to fit into the already packed and busy schedule, seniors are looking forward to graduation day, and parents are trying to plan what is going to happen when students transition from being in school all day to being back at home.
In many ways, it has been a long year, but on the other hand, I can’t believe we’re already at the end. It’s around this time every year that I always encourage teachers, students, and faculty to finish strong; to finish well.
I have participated in track and field since junior high all the way up through my collegiate years. Upon my return home from college, I start
ed coaching for a local high school. I tell them every year that there are two things that they’ll be able to put on my tombstone. The first: “Use your arms!” The second: “Finish it!”
I can’t tell you how many times a season I yell at my athletes to “run through the finish line” or to “finish hard.”
You see, many times it’s easy to see the finish line and just pull up short or slow down right before they finish. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the stage was set for the Men’s 100m dash. The competition would be grueling. Nine men racing to see who would be considered the fastest in the world. Less than 10 seconds later, the world would have its answer in the form of Jamaican runner, Usain Bolt. Now for the majority of people watching this event, they sat in awe of what they just saw transpire — a man running 100 meters in world record time.
That’s not what I saw. What I saw was a man who, while running a world record time, could conceivably run it slightly faster had he not taken the opportunity to look at his sides for the competition or while easing up on his stride knowing that he would be a gold medal winner. Usain Bolt had stopped slightly before crossing that finish line.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24) It's when we get close to the finish line that we forget how to fight. It's the time when excuses become more common and the discipline to finish begins to wane. Run in such a way that you can win the prize; knowing you’ve done all that you can to finish strong.
How are you finishing the race during this season of your life? Now is not the time to coast. Now is not the time to give up. Now is not the time to ease into the finish. It’s not time to slow down. It’s not time to say “I’ve done enough.” It's time to pick up speed. It's time to fight harder. It’s time to say “How much can I do, and do it well, before the end?” Don’t cram or try to do as much as you can for the sake of numbers, but do everything with a spirit of excellence. That spirit of excellence will propel you through the finish line.
Don’t pull up before it’s too early. Fight the good fight. Finish well. Finish strong! “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)