Why starting with the end matters

Biting our nails through life

The men in my family are passionate Georgia Bulldog fans. We nearly always have our home open to hosting friends and groups, but not when it comes to Georgia football. The emotions are too intense and raw, the tension can be felt. We’ve been known to lash out at each other in a weak moment of fear. So we choose to keep those moments as mostly family affairs.

Over the weekend, Georgia played Florida. This is a game we want to win. Badly. And we did. The rest of the evening was lovely.

Sunday after church, I grabbed my book and headed to my room to enjoy an afternoon of reading. Steve and Andrew were already on the bed fully engrossed in a football game. I was surprised to see it was the very game we watched with intent focus the night before. They’d recorded it and now watched play by play the entire game all over again.

To me it made no sense. We know how it turns out. We watched every play. Why are we watching this again?

When I asked Andrew about it, he responded, “But now I can watch it relaxed.” Not only was he relaxed, he watched with pure joy and excitement.

Knowing the end of the game changes how we engage with it.

The game itself required pain, sacrifice, and playing beyond limits. It required teamwork and vision. It required sweat and blood. The game was fought for. Knowing the ending, because we’ve seen it before, changed our disposition as we watched it play out.

In our daily lives, what if we focused on the end more than the middle? What if we kept our gaze on Jesus because He already won? What if we played the game of life with joy and rest because we know the battle is already won? How would our day to day change?

Imagine the joy.

Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12

How many times have I traveled through an intense season of life with fear and angst only to look back and realize God was with me all along? How many times have I struggled through situations with clenched fists only to look back and see God’s hand all over it?

Lord, give us look-back vision today. Restore to us the joy of your salvation. Keep us focused on You as the victor. You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We can rest in You no matter what storms we walk through.

Start with the end in mind.

In many areas of my life, I remind myself to start with the end and work backwards. In parenting, when our kids were babies, we started with the end in mind. We visualized and discussed what types of relationship we wanted to have with our future adult kids. Then we mapped out a plan to live and parent intentionally.

When the parenting days are hard, I often have to go back to that end goal vision, remember the big picture, and release my grip on today.

In our walk with God, it’s quite similar. The days can grind us down, the people can wear us out, but when we keep our focus on the end game, knowing the ultimate ending, we can rest.

We are safe in His hands.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”’ John 10:27-30

One day we will step into eternity with our Lord. All will be well. Today, it is well too. He is here. He is Emmanuel, God with us.