07
Oct
20

DONE!

The voice of my sweet wife: “Are you finished in there yet, honey?”

ME: “Almost!”

Sweet wife: “OK. Just let me know. We need to leave in five minutes!”

ME (as we walk into whatever-occasion-it-was, 10 minutes after the festivities began): “Sorry we’re late. I had to finish.” 

I have a thing about finishing. Call it a personality quirk. Call it an endearing quality. Or you can choose to call it what my sweet wife Joan calls it: downright annoying.

I’ll admit; if I start a task, I like to finish it. “Half done is undone,” as my dad used to say. I love to see a long “To Do” list in front of me accruing check mark after check mark beside each item.

This completion drive of mine is probably why I keep shoveling food into my face long after I am comfortably full. I’m all, “Hey… if there is still food on the plate, it isn’t FINISHED, is it!”

That quality is probably one reason I like to blog so much. It is a project that I can start… and then finish. 

On the surface, this sounds like a wonderfully positive quality, doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t like a “finisher”?

Recently, however, I have discovered the “shadow side” (as my Jungian friends call it) of this characteristic…

… and that is, the inability to walk away.

Sometimes I have trouble going to sleep at night, even when I am physically bone tired. It is probably because I lie in bed making mental lists of all of the tasks l didn’t finish that day. 

Not to get too psychological about it, but I am reasonably sure the little “remember to clean your plate” voice inside my head has a lot to do with why I have struggled so much with retirement so far. Anyone who has been a pastor will tell you the same thing: the job is never done. There are always more sermons to be preached. There are always more hands to be held. There is always more spiritual growing to do. There are always more hearts to be softened. There are always more souls to be energized.

And yes… there are ALWAYS more meetings to attend. There is never a clean “breaking point” at which to just turn and walk away… although I know a lot of people who have done exactly that.

There is something to be said for sticking with a job and seeing it faithfully through to completion. But there is also something to be said – maybe even something more important –for being able to be at peace with laying a task down, turning your back, and walking serenely away. 

As he hung on the cross in agony, Jesus was able to muster one last timeless phrase. He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30, NRSV) Some scholars contend that in addition to his mortal life, Jesus was also referring to the earthly mission he came to fulfill. The door to forgiveness and eternal life was now open. Nothing further was called for.

“Father God, the job you sent me to do is DONE. I’m ready to come home.” And even though we can look around today, more than twenty centuries later, and see millions of people who refuse his gift, Jesus knew that he had finished the work he came to do.

Perhaps there is a difference between the concepts of FINISHED and COMPLETED. Is it possible to say that my assigned role is finished, and yet still say that the overall task is not yet completed? As in, “Joe the electrician FINISHED all the wiring, but the house is not yet COMPLETED”?

Maybe.

Perhaps the lesson I am meant to learn here is that outcomes do not ultimately depend on me (or you). 

We are each given our tasks. We carry them out faithfully and to the best of our ability…

… and then we walk away, trusting that, as Paul wrote to the Philippians one day, “… the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, NRSV). 

Gosh, I sure hope so!

Abundant blessings;

(OK. Now I’m finished).


1 Response to “DONE!”


  1. October 8, 2020 at 12:51 am

    That to-do list with unchecked items taunts me at the end of every day. Love the perspective here…


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