How many of you have ever played golf, thrown a ball, or swung a bat? Though these activities are quite different, at least one skill is common to them all. It’s called follow through. After contact is made with the ball, or after the ball is released, the arm continues in an unbroken arc or swing for maximum effect.
The Scriptures tell us,
"Better is the end of a thing [a completed arc or swing, as in our analogy] than its beginning."Ecc. 7:8 ESV
Our backswing may be impressive, but the follow-through determines the outcome.
In Luke 14 Jesus lays out the terms of discipleship. Crowds were following Jesus. People loved the miracles, healings, and free food. Jesus was the talk of the town. But he knew their hearts. They loved all he had to offer, but not the life he was calling them to. So, he challenged them to “count the cost” (v. 28). In other words, he talked to them about follow through!
Follow through begins with the will and a commitment to carry an action through to its ultimate completion, regardless of the cost or the difficulties along the way. Disciples are not immune to hurt and heartache. In following Jesus, the loss of relationships, dreams, material things, or even our lives is a possibility. So, when the going gets tough, one has the choice of either giving in to the difficulty or following through on their faith commitment.
As I have been thinking about faith and follow through, COVID-19 comes to mind. The environment the pandemic has spawned has added to the weight and pressure those in vocational ministry have experienced. All of us have struggled to some degree through a time most have never encountered before. Although the global curse is no longer the primary topic of the evening news, we are still experiencing the residue of those long months of waiting, watching, and wondering what the outcome would be. What do I mean by residue? In the past few weeks, I’ve experienced being held longer than usual on the telephone due to staff shortages, canceled airline flights due to a pilot shortage, and even substandard adjusters our insurance agent attributed to the absence of qualified staff. Everywhere you look, companies are pivoting as they try to adapt to the new reality. The same is true for missionaries, pastors, and churches.
The disruption we have experienced has touched all areas of our lives, affecting people’s equilibrium:
Some ministers have caved into the pressure caused by this disruption and have joined the ranks of what has been described as the Great Resignation. Rather than giving in or giving up, we need to consider Paul’s admonition:
“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless”1 Cor. 15:58 NLT
Remember, our backswing may be impressive, but the follow through determines the outcome in both life and ministry!