In the movie series, "The Lord of the Rings" based on J.R. Tolkien's books, the wizard called Gandalf the Grey reads air inscription on the mysterious and powerful ring, which is at the center of these adventures:
One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them in, and in the darkness find them,
In the story, the Hobbits have this mysterious ring that not only gives its owners incredible power but also has the seductive ability to enslave and ruin. The movies follow the quest as Frodo, the trilogy's hero faces all kinds of enemies and obstacles to return the ring to a place where it can be neutralized and neither empower or enslave anyone ever again.
The fun of these movies and books are the marvelous worlds and creatures invented by the author and filmmakers who tell the stories, and the incredible courage and perseverance displayed by Frodo in completing his quest. There are many lessons and parallels to modern life that can be drawn from these fables, but the one that is most appropriate for you as students, especially at this time of your lives as you face the greatest challenge of your young lives, is this:
You will never succeed in graduating from college, or any other challenge in life if you don't learn to finish what you start!
Frodo, in our Lord of the Rings story, eventually finishes the race, reaches his goal, blooded, nearly dead, nearly empty, needing help, but he gets there. Oh, there's a twist at the end, but he does finish the course. I'd like to share three tried and true principles that will help you to learn one of life's most important lessons, finishing what you start.
Finishing What You Start
If you want to be a finisher:
1. Understand that Finishing is Always Harder than Starting
So many great ideas, projects, plans, businesses, causes, relationships, missions, educations, have been left unfinished because people didn't understand this simple truth. So many don't get the idea that the "rush" that accompanies the beginning of a project, rarely last until the end. People are propelled along with that first flush of enthusiasm when they begin but when their jets cool off, so does their dedication and commitment and they begin investing as much energy into looking for a way out as actually sticking with the project until the end.
A testimony to this fact is that there are a lot more unfinished projects and causes in the world than completed ones. A great example of this is a marathon run. Note how charged up and smiling everyone is at the starting live. See how they are different at the halfway, three forths way mark (gray/pushing/falling down). Then look at their eyes at the finish line and count the difference in the numbers between start and finish.
Jesus knew this basic truth and warned His "would-be" disciples about the high cost of finishing as one of His followers:
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Other- wise when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish.
- Luke 14:27-30
When we begin something with the understanding that it will be harder to finish than to start, we have a better chance of reaching our goal.
2. You must Resolve that Nothing will stop you from Finishing
You have to keep trying every day until it's over. Whatever you have begun to struggle with:
- Returning a magic ring to Mount Doom.
- A tough course in class or hard training to be part of a sports team.
- A sinful habit.
- A troubled relationship.
- No matter what the obstacles, you are not going to quit.
Thomas Edison examined 3,000 formulas and experiments before getting the light bulb to work. The difference between failure and success is not just strength, wealth or talent it is the resolution not to quit under any circumstances.
In most instances, we don't even see the finish line until we make a firm decision to press on. So many have lost battles because they are not sure they want to go on fighting. For example, once a professional boxer sees that his opponent has lost the will to win, the fight is over, it's just a matter of time.
The true point of victory happens at the moment you decide not to quit, no matter what the cost. People can beat you up, treat you unfairly, make life difficult for you, but you control if you're going to quit or not.
3. Remember that Rewards Only go to Finishers not Starters
Quitters have stories, excuses, complaints --- but the prizes go to those who finish. Like when salesmen get the commission if they close the deal, not just show the product. Marathoners get to say, "I ran the N.Y. Marathon," only if they cross the finish live.
Of course, the consummate finisher was Jesus Christ Himself. When He began His ministry the crowds were with Him, they tried to make Him King because they saw His miracles and heard of His wisdom. At the end of His life, He was alone, beaten, humiliated, totally rejected and nailed to a Roman cross. And yet, He was able to say, "It is finished."
He began gloriously, struggled through the obstacles and finished on a bloody cross, all to receive His reward. And His reward was not His resurrection,
His resurrection was never in doubt because He was sinless. No, His reward was the possibility of our resurrection through His sacrifice on the cross!
Jesus finished His difficult course in this life so all of us would have a chance to experience the life that comes after this one.
I pray that all of you will finish the race of this Christian life faithfully so that you will capture the prize that God has for you in the next life. As for today, my hope is that you will all one day possess the "ring." Not the ring that gives evil power and binding in darkness in the movie.
But as for a graduate's ring, the ring that says that each of you were willing to do what was necessary in order to finish what you started when you first arrived in High School or in college. Only those who finish receive the reward. Only those who finish wear the symbol. Only those who finish can say, "We are the Lords of the Ring."
God bless you and keep you in the race until you finish.