“It is finished,” said the Lord Jesus on the cross and it was finished really. The President of a country or State Governor can say so and nothing will happen. The Lord Jesus said it and He yielded the ghost. It was a great astonishment to the people, who were there as they saw Him bowing to death immediately. It had never happened that some-one knew the very second he would die. The Lord Jesus knew His because He was in charge of the situation. Praise God.
He came from Heaven for a mission and He finished well, leaving nothing undone or in doubt. Heaven heard Him, that He had accomplished the assignment that brought Him to this world. People heard it, so that nobody should blame Him for anything, having done what He came to do. His vicarious death was the price He paid for our salvation. May it be our portion to finish honourably and to announce to Heaven and earth, at the end of our glorious stay in this world, that we have finished whatever responsibility God has given us to do!
Nobody is free from the expectations of people, that he should finish anything he has started to do. This explains why, after an examination, my usual question to a candidate has always been whether he finished. “Did you answer all the questions?” I ask. I am comfortable with a positive response, but never with a negative one, though the person may tell me that the questions were cheap. “If they were cheap, why did he not finish?” I would grumble within. No woman is happy, if her husband or child does not finish the food she served him. Banks are not happy also with a customer that cannot finish in repaying the loan given to him.
Nothing interests any boss than when his workers inform him that they have finished the work given to them, irrespective of the type of work. On the other hand, nothing upsets a boss than for his workers to be dishing out to him, a catalogue of reasons, why they could not finish the work assigned to them. Some of the workers will even justify proudly, why they could not finish the assignment given to them, when they should have done so.
A man, who missed narrowly to have won a lottery, is not richer than the one, who missed it by a wide margin. It is the same case with a fellow that missed his flight by one minute. He is not better than the man, who missed it by ten hours. Their fate is the same: None of them entered the airplane!
In those days, when I was in the Teacher Train- ing College, I was an athlete, specializing in sprint- ing. I would determine ahead of time that the least position I would make would be the second position. With some pride buried inside, and confidence of my speed, I would take off, quite sure, that I would win the enviable prize. On one occasion, as I was coming fourth, an athlete, from another school, who knew me well, shouted in great disappointment, “Is it not 404?” He could not imagine me coming fourth. I was ashamed. I buckled up immediately, increasing my speed, though tired. I realized that my personality was at stake. I knew that the three people ahead of me were tired also. With eyes on the finishing tape, I struggle harder to grab the second position. Yes, to finish requires fighting hard to win. Hard work is thus, important and it may involve pains and sacrifices. These can only be possible if there is a firm determination by the individual. It means, not being scared by rain or sunshine.
I wrote in this Column, I think in 2004, how I once, started well during a soccer championship, but ended badly. I had the advantage that I was fast on the field and great also in dribbling. To most people, I was a ‘Master dribbler’. In one of our Cup matches, a players kicked the ball to me at mid field, and I took off from there, dribbling the ball past our opponents on the defence line, while our students, in great excitement, were cheering me heartily. My head was swollen with pride, until the only person left for me to beat was their goalkeeper! For sure, it was certain that I would score the goal, our winning goal. I wanted to score it in grandiose. That was why I did not shoot it hard in be- tween the net but tried to dribble the ball pass him. He caught it at my feet! Chineke!
Yes, the football was not inside the net, as every- body had expected, but in the hands of the goalkeeper. It caused the cup match to end in a draw. My pride evaporated. I was stinking from the football pitch to my hostel, like someone pulled out from the gutter. Nobody remembered that, out of the two goals we scored, I scored one. It did not matter at all to any- body and also to me. We lost a game we had won!
That was the price of not finishing well. That time, 1965, I was an unbeliever. Of a truth, I missed in scoring that goal narrowly, the winning goal. It had no meaning as I did not score it. What mattered was the goal scored. In the same manner, some people will regret that they missed going to Heaven narrowly. “If not that charm my daddy gave me for protection, I would have made it. That day the Pastor was preaching, I was convicted but I could not surrender the charm. As if he knew, he asked me if I had any charm and I lied to him,” someone will regret. It is a regret that will not attract sympathy. The difference is clear, of running medical tests on someone and doing postmortem on his corpse!
At the Upper Room, Judas, one of the disciples of Jesus, was not there. He was dead, not by sickness or accident. He committed suicide. He sold Jesus but was not comfortable in keeping the proceeds. He returned the money to the buyers. They, too, could not have the money back and keep also what they bought. Not only was he missing at the Upper Room, he missed narrowly to be called, like others, ‘Saint Judas’. That was painful for a man, who for three years, was with Jesus. He did not finish well, though he was their treasurer. Many people like him, who did not end well, did not start well really. To be a child of God, from where the journey starts, a man must surrender his life absolutely to Jesus. There is no middle path, irrespective of the office he holds in the Church.
What pains me much about Judas is that he was there, all the time, and he witnessed sinners, repent- ing from their sins, but, he hardened his heart. He witnessed the miraculous deeds of the Lord and also of his fellow disciples, when they were sent on evangelism, yet he hardened his heart. There are still people like him in our various churches. If you are like them, repent now, so that you will not, in regret say, “I had almost surrendered my life when God’s Spirit touched me”.
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