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Forward: Discovering God's Presence and Purpose in Your Tomorrow
by David Jeremiah
Learn More | Meet David Jeremiah
You’re Not Done Until You’re Done
If you ever get into an unfortunate scrape, you might hire...
Frank P. Lucianna to represent you. He’s a razor-sharp attorney in Hackensack, New Jersey, just across the Hudson from New York City. You can spot Lucianna in the courtroom daily, dressed in a dapper suit with a pocket square, chopping his hands in the air and defending people in trouble. He does it with energy and effectiveness.
Lucianna has been defending clients for quite a while. Forty-five years ago, a local newspaper claimed he was the city’s “busiest criminal lawyer.” Twenty-two years ago, the same paper called him “a consummate showman” and New Jersey’s “oldest active attorney.” Today, Lucianna still waxes eloquent before judges and juries at age ninety-seven.
Lucianna doesn’t rest on his laurels. “This is a very consuming profession and it has taken a lot out of my life,” he says. “I am constantly involved in preparing cases, and it’s a tremendous strain, both mental and physical. Physical because when you go to trial in a case, your whole being is obsessed with trying to help the person you represent, and it places your body and mind under tension.”
When asked about his future, Lucianna said, “I hope God lets me continue doing this. I don’t want to retire. I don’t want to go to Florida. I just want to do what I’m doing.”1
Personally, I like going to Florida—but otherwise I feel the same. I hope God lets me continue doing what He’s called me to do. My name isn’t Archippus, but I take the one verse addressed to him in the Bible as though it were written to me: “Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord’” (Colossians 4:17, NIV).
Yes, your role may change. Your assignments may evolve and your situation may alter. You may have to make adjustments. Even so, one fact won’t change: as long as God leaves you on earth, He has ongoing work for you. There’s no expiration date to the principles I’m teaching you in this book. You never retire from the Christian life, and you never drop out of God’s will.
I urge you—never stop starting, and do your best to finish what you start in the Lord’s will.
In his book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, Jon Acuff describes how hard this seems for some people:
I’ve only completed 10 percent of the books I own. It took me three years to finish six days of the P90X home exercise program. When I was twenty-three I made it to blue-belt in karate. . . . I have thirty-two half-started Moleskine notebooks in my office and nineteen tubes of nearly finished Chapstick in my bathroom.
Acuff adds that he’s not the only one who doesn’t stick with things. “According to studies, 92 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail. Every January people start with hope and hype, believing that this will be the New Year that does indeed deliver a New You. But though 100 percent start, only 8 percent finish.”2
During the 2020 pandemic, I released a book called Shelter in God to encourage those struggling with the terrible crisis. One night, as the book was ready to go to press, I awoke with thoughts of all the biblical characters who experienced sheltering-like experiences. The next day, I compiled my list to add it to the epilogue at the end of the book. But then I read a study by Jefferson Smith that said sixty-three percent of readers never finish the book they’re reading.3 I called my publisher at the last possible moment, and we changed the epilogue to a prologue. I didn’t want anyone to miss the biblical emphasis of this truth.
It’s a little frustrating to think that some people will read the first pages of some of my books and never get to the final pages. I work just as hard on the last page as the first one. But congratulations! You’ve obviously made it to this point in Forward, so don’t stop now. Resolve to finish this book. And even more, resolve to finish whatever God places in your hands.
Finish What You Start
Let’s face it. You can have a great vision, pray godly prayers, choose the right goals, and focus on the right things. So far, so good. You can also pursue your dreams and make huge investments in God’s Word, His work, and His wealth. You can do everything we’ve talked about so far in this book. But if you don’t finish what you start, it’s like a building that never has a roof.
Dr. J. Robert Clinton teaches in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary and has devoted vast amounts of time to researching the subject of lifelong leadership development. As part of his study, he identified about a thousand men and women in the Bible who were considered leaders: national leaders, Jewish leaders, church leaders, patriarchs, priests, kings, and so forth.
Many of these leaders were simply mentioned in the text without details, and you may be as surprised as I was to learn there are only forty-nine prominent leaders in Scripture whose lives were surveyed as a whole. We know how they started and how they finished.
Of these forty-nine, only thirty percent finished well. The other seventy percent fell short of God’s plan for their lives—a fact that should jolt us. Some leaders such as Samson and Eli stumbled at midlife. Others such as Noah, David, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah stumbled near the end.4
But thank God for the thirty percent—for people like Joshua, Daniel, Peter, and Paul—who enjoyed walking with God in increasing intimacy throughout their days. They simply kept growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. They remained yielded to Him in all things. Like the trees planted in the courtyard of the Lord, they flourished and stayed fresh and green, bearing fruit whatever their age (Psalm 92:12–14).
Clearly, the greatest finisher in the Bible is Jesus. His entire life and ministry was motivated by a commitment to finish the work His Father gave Him to accomplish:
- “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work’” (John 4:34).
- “But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36).
And when we come to His crucifixion, who can forget perhaps the most profound words in all of the Bible: “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ ” (John 19:30).
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