In our years of overseas ministry, there was much satisfaction in the experience of “finishing” a certain job or project – the accounting trial-balance that finally balanced! – (That was before computer accounting systems!) – the final piece of corrugated iron or aluminum cap put on the new roof, the last interminable church council meeting making plans for the next area-wide church conference, the translation job finished and finally sent to the publisher! Or the 100 (or 1000!) other things I was sure I had finished.
I know, the term “finishing” has quite a fluid meaning – that which you finished yesterday may need adjustment today; that church activity or decision may continually need to be fine tuned. That planned evangelistic safari was now over – and the next job was the beginning of “follow-up” planning!
In all cases, however, that “finishing” gives a sense of accomplishment and real thanks to the Lord for His help and direction and real gratefulness for all the Tanzanian pastors, elders, deacons, Christians – all who were part of what happened. Challenge always remains – the challenge of those without Christ who need to know; the challenge of the Body of Christ which needs maturity; the challenge of any “job” that yet needs to be done (or re-done!).
I think that any one of us who loves the Lord looks forward to the day, as the Apostle Paul said in 2Tim. 4:7, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith”. In the meantime we continue to minister, we continue to serve – we continue to “finish”, yet we find there is much unfinished. So, we continue on (oops! Grammar problem. Wikipedia says “it is pleonastic to follow [continue] with “on””!). But no matter the degree of completion of a specific ministry, the Lord tells us in a parable to “… occupy till I come”(Luke 19:13). So we keep busy with what He has for us, looking forward to His return. Until we, too, have “… finished the course … “).