I love getting packages in the mail. To me, it feels like Christmas. A box shows up on my porch, I tear into it using my keys to destroy the packaging tape, and inside (wrapped in bubble wrap if I’m lucky) is a brand new something. Usually it’s a something I’ve wanted, something I’ve waited for, something I’ve probably even tracked online as it made its trek to my house. Oh the joy of its much-anticipated arrival! I like new stuff – beginnings.
But Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that the end of a thing is better than the beginning, which sounds odd at first read because most endings in this world aren’t the happily ever after, fairy tale variety. In fact, I often associate endings with disappointment, loss, and sadness. I think about my friend Lisa whose long battle with cancer ended early yesterday morning. I think about my mom who finished her race in March. So many endings in recent years…endings I wasn’t ready for. But in the hours following Sunday’s sermon on heaven, I’ve pictured these dear ones in paradise, imagined their joy, how all the doubts they’d ever carried have been wiped away, the knowing that they now have…and suddenly the beauty of the end is revealed.
New stuff, beginnings, are wonderful…filled with anticipation, excitement, nervousness, and fresh discovery. Endings have this certainty, though, a finality and a sense of accomplishment and completeness that is comforting. What about the space in between? What about the journey? This morning I am reminded to make the most of all the moments I am given, to enjoy them, to wisely invest them rather than spending them haphazardly or – perhaps worse – completely miss them because I’m so focused on the maybes and what ifs of the future.
Less clarity, more trust.
When I ran my first 5k this summer, I ran it with a group of friends. The moment we started, when they told us all to go, came with such a thrill. Of course when we crossed the finish line the ending was all cheers and laughter and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. But the race was run in the span between the start and the finish, and I was so grateful for the friends running alongside me and for the race volunteers stationed all along the route, guiding and cheering us along.
I don’t know about you, but I have the best race partner possible in this life. I am so grateful that as long as I continue to put one foot in front of the other and listen, He will guide me, encourage me, and keep me until the day I cross the finish line.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. -Hebrews 12:1
To bubble wrap, finish lines, and everything in between!