When I think of the word “finish,” I think of “end” or “stop.” So every time I’ve run across this scripture in the past, the word choice has always struck me as odd:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Being finished with faith, putting a stop to it—that didn’t make sense at all. But as is often the case in scripture reading, I just passed it by and decided to think about it more “next time.” Well, finally, the “next time” came around. A few weeks ago as I was studying, I came across this scripture again.
As I’ve associated more with writers and thought more about writing, I’ve noticed how many people want to write a novel or think they’ve got a good book in them that they’ll finish someday. There are a lot of us! But for every hundred people who want to write a novel, maybe only seventy or so even start one (and I think that’s an awfully generous estimate).
Now how many people finish one? (I’ll give you a hint. It’s not very many. Just ask the NaNoWriMo folk.)
It’s easy to be an author, but it’s hard to be a finisher. Christ, though—He wrote the book of our faith, so to speak. He brought its purpose into existence by His life. But starting it wasn’t enough. He also finished it, completed it, by His sacrifice on our behalf. He “endured the cross” for the joy of finishing. He gave our faith meaning and reason and wholeness.
You don’t buy a book at the bookstore knowing that the author never wrote the ending (please don’t quibble with me about that one Dickens novel). The reason those books at the store matter to other people is because they were finished. Our faith only matters because Christ finished His mission on earth and brings power into our lives when we follow Him in faith.
Through Him we can “run with patience the race that is set before us” (look! it also works as a running metaphor!).
Through Him we can be finishers too.