Intend to finish.
Intend to finish strong.
No, that doesn’t mean that you live with tension, stress, and anxiety regarding your life. In fact, it actually means that you need to know what the race is about. You need to be prepared. If you are prepared, you can actually relax in the freedom of the Gospel, while you live a Christlike life in the world.
It is possible to relax and enjoy the passion and commitment of marriage.
It is possible to relax and yet press on with the difficult.
It is possible to relax and enjoy taking care of your body/soul.
It is possible to relax and enjoy mature and godly relationships.
It is possible to relax and enjoy your identity as God’s beloved.
It is possible to relax and enjoy the security that is found in God alone.
It is possible to relax and enjoy working hard as you live out your life as God’s steward.
You may want to ask, are you always relaxed? Of course not. But, I am much farther ahead than I used to be. I have found a way to live with far less tension, stress, and anxiety than I used to. For many years, I was a waiting recipient for someone else’s anxiety. I guess I thought that ministry was taking on another’s anxiety so that they would feel better. Yet, I really wasn’t helping anyone.
Real freedom and real joy can be found when my life is anchored in the grace of God.
To live this way takes preparation. The preparation is ultimately found in solitude as you spend time preparing for the race. Henri Nouwen says this well in his book The Way of the Heart (p. 13-14):
Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. Jesus himself entered this furnace, and there he was tempted with the three compulsions of the world: to be relevant (“turn stones into loaves”), to be spectacular (“throw yourself down”), and to be powerful (“I will give you all these kingdoms”). There he affirmed God as the only source of his identity (“You must worship the LORD your God and serve him alone”). Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter — the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.