How one finishes something tells a story for a long time that is far more detailed than anyone realizes as the final steps are in motion. A vivid memory of my childhood came in helping Dad prep and paint a car. Each step was critical. The early steps in the process were easily. Everything was new and exciting. Things seem to move quickly! It was almost too easy to anticipate the outcome, often imagining that it was going to magical come within the next few hours. After hours, days, and at times weeks on a project, finding the initial energy, momentum, and belief was often difficult. Even as Dad reminded me how the last steps were as important as the first, I just wanted to be finished.
The analogy extends well beyond a car project. Work, cooking, and writing all fit the framework. What we do at the end of our efforts is as important, maybe more so, than our work at the beginning. Taking care of business, paying attention to the details, and working patiently to ensure one's values and priorities are reflected in every decision is always important. The approach makes sense at the beginning, in the middle, and even as one is wrapping up a chapter. With time, many will forget everything except the finish.
There are great examples that can give us courage and hope. When someone was being stoned for his beliefs, the final act of his life captured truth filled hope. “Then he knelt down, praying loud enough for everyone to hear, 'Master, don't blame them for this sin'-his last words. Then he died.” (Acts 7.60)
Every ending is a new beginning. At times, I know it does not seem that way. Some endings are dark and filled with a sense of impending doom. The feelings are very real. The evidence that is driving our fears is overwhelming. Yet, there is always more to the story than what we see and feel. It is when life is the darkest that our actions matter the most. Yesterday's sunset introduced today's beginning.
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