Category Archives: God

Hold that finish!

“Behind every good _____, there’s a good ________,” they say. But I say, after every good stroke, there is a good follow through. After every good kick, after every good serve, after every good swing, after every good putt, after every good throw, there is a good follow through. It’s not an accident that a successful effort is followed by a smooth finish.

Of course, the reverse is also generally true: after a poor stroke, there is a poor follow through. Same with kick. Same with serve, swing, putt, and throw. An unsuccessful effort generally shows itself in its wayward finishing flourish, or lack of one.

How we finish says a great deal about our performance. Finish with ease and balance and we’ve likely been accurate and effective. Finish abruptly and off kilter and we’ve likely missed the mark. Stopping short usually spells failure.

On the surface, this seems odd. Shouldn’t our success depend on what happens when we impart the force, impact the projectile or strike the implement? I mean, how much effect can a follow through really have after I’ve already achieved launch?

The key to the great finish is the freedom to “swing for the fences.” The deep breath of release that allows you to unleash full force, to let ‘er rip and see where she lands. This freedom to swing out of your shoes is the object of every amateur’s dreams and the signature of every champion’s finish. For sure, it has been honed over thousands of hours of painstaking attention to alignment, preparation, timing and execution.

Show me a good finish and I’ll tell you who made the putt, threw the strike, split the fairway or cleared the fence nearly every time. We’re meant to complete what we’ve started. To follow a strong start with a strong finish.

Just like our Designer who assures us we can be confident of this, “that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil 1:6

Because the One who put us into motion has planned for our completion, we can swing for the fences without fear of striking out, we can pull full force without fear of falling, we can strike our shot without fear of missing.

Because the finish line ain’t moving. Neither is the fence, the hole, the base or the baseline. We’re meant to keep swinging, free and clear, trusting the outcome, come what may.

We’re not designed to come to a sudden stop. We’re meant to swing and follow through, kick and follow through, throw and follow through, serve and follow through. That’s how we learn to trust ourselves and our practice.

We should have planned this from the beginning. Fortunately, Someone did.

The key to 2020 Vision is in View

Evan and Evelyn Eagle greet the sunrise before the new year

This pair of eagles was perched on the rooftop, amiably and companionably awaiting the rise of the new day, new month, new year, new decade. I wonder what they can see way up ahead, where their eagle eyes can pierce through the fog, the foliage and the distance.

My eyes, on the other hand, are such feeble instruments, requiring spectacles to read the tiny print and binoculars to bring distant things into focus. What meager vision I have by comparison to these two magnificent creatures. And yet, I perch before my day and pretend to see it clearly.

Vision, what a miraculous gift! But how confounding. Because my two eyes, set apart as they are, give me two versions of my world, one from the right and one from the left. Thus, I have two perspectives on every viewpoint, such that by holding them together I may compare them and judge their distance. This is how My Designer teaches me depth perception.

In order to compare what each side sees, some of the “image” from my right eye crosses over to the left side of my brain and some of the “image” from my left eye crosses over to the right. Thus, my brain shares visual input “across its aisle,” considering both sides before concluding what it sees. This is how my Designer teaches me deliberation.

Because of the unique properties of the lens in my eye, the image on my retina is projected upside down. The top is on the bottom and the bottom is on the top. Only as I use my body through my environment, touching, feeling, manipulating what’s before me can I convert the image to see it “right side up.” This is how my Designer teaches me mind-body connection.

Next, my eyes send this abstract collection of color, intensity and pattern on a journey to my visual cortex where the inputs are compared with patterns I have seen before and impressions made by previous experience. Along with other pertinent sensory input, all of this is “processed” in light of what I’ve learned and what I believe. This is how my Designer teaches me understanding.

Finally, I see.

Isn’t it miraculous how inside a problem lay its solution? How inside a question lay its answer? And if we pay close attention, how inside a human lay our solution for humanity? This is how my Designer teaches me about Himself.

Sitting together on a rooftop taking in the long view before the sunrise of a new decade, I pray we might see into the distance and be completely and utterly amazed. Now that would be 2020 VISION.

*For more like this check out Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies.

When the storm brings rain

We had a much-needed rain last night. Though the arrogant lightning flashed boldly in my window making it hard to fall asleep, when I heard the droplets pelting against my window pane I knew that thirsty Mother Earth would be glad for a drink. In the morning, the soaking had left a smile on the face of my struggling, newly sodded lawn and renewed my hope that the hydrangea I had transplanted into the front mulch bed — a gift to me from my new next-door neighbor — might still gather the strength to stand up tall. Nice as he is, I felt sure he would be noticing.

As I strode along the drive and then through the neighborhood with my two energetic pups, my shoes became altogether sodden thanks to the puddling on the path which didn’t drink the rain up. Neither did signs and vehicles we passed, nor the metal-covered electrical box, nor the roadway, nor the roofs of nearby homes or their driveways nor the …. But so much did. The browning hillside. The drooping trees and bent shrubs. The colorful annuals planted hopefully along the foundations. These surely did.

Suddenly I felt an odd gratitude for the indiscriminate nature of the rains, falling on all things equally, like the grace of God. Paying no mind to where they land — whether needed or well-received, whether shirked, shed or run off down the hill into the pond — they distributed themselves equally. Yes, the Father sends rain on the just and unjust.

At once I felt a bit of a twinge, recalling times when I had prickled at the apparent unfairness of good things that had come to the poorly mannered, undeserving, entitled or even to the apparently wicked while the same good seemed to be withheld from those who needed or deserved it the most. I needed this simple reminder that the grass, my grass, didn’t receive its rain because it needed it but because of the even-tempered and merciful nature of the One who delivers it.

So that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) 

When we put our hope and trust in humans and human ways, we are sure to be disappointed, but if we trust in God first, perhaps we can trust in what God’s grace can do. Even in them. Even in us. Especially in the storms of life.

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