The Best For Last

As has been widely reported, the San Francisco Giants waited until the final week of baseball’s regular season to secure a berth in the postseason. Their regular season was strong (with 92 wins), but they weren’t able to pull away from a solid Padres team leaving them with a stretch run that stretched them all the way into October. Then, in the postseason, they dispatched the Braves in four games and shocked the highly-touted Phillies in a tough 6-game series. Once in the World Series, they would not be denied. The domination they showed over the Rangers was proof positive that the San Francisco Giants, 2010 World Series champions, had saved their best for last—securing their first championship since moving to the Bay area, and their first overall since 1954.

So many times, we get caught up in the exuberance of the short-term and lose sight of the value of the long haul—in our games, our relationships, our commitments, or our service to Christ. Then, in the end, we can find ourselves willing to coast to the finish line instead of running all the way through the tape. Paul, in his service for Christ, saw it differently, however, and we can learn from him. In the final chapter of his final letter, with the end in sight, Paul told his young protégé, Timothy:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8a)

The key word is finished. We are challenged in the scriptures to endure to the end, to persevere, and to stay faithful. And Paul says that, for those who do, there is a far greater prize than a World Series ring—there is a “crown of righteousness” that we will receive from Christ Himself! Rather than bail out, or coast, or rest on whatever laurels we may think we have accumulated, it is important that we see the value of “finishing.” The prize at the end will be worth it, as our Savior and Lord declares to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant…”

Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain