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  • Reverend James Squire

The Finish Line

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

How you finish matters! One of the things that frustrates me is people who are big talkers on the front end of anything such as a new job. They will be the best thing to happen to an enterprise. This is on my mind because of the great promises made by various Philadelphia sports’ teams when they hire a “superstar” and the reality that has ensued. They pay huge amounts of money to stars, there are press conferences to celebrate their coming to town, and then the usual disappointment at the end. There is an old saying in Philly that if you want to be successful just leave town. Think Andy Reid who is the coach of the recent Super Bowl Champions, The Kansas City Chiefs.

When I think of the words finish line, I think of running a race, but recently I have seen these two words to reveal a characteristic of human nature that is crucial to our well-being. For one thing it is important to know where the finish line is. When I was running in the 10 miles Broad Street Run years ago, I was heading toward what I believed to be the finish line on South Broad Street in Philadelphia. Runners try to pace themselves so that when they are near the end, they can dig deep and find a fast pace to complete the race. However, when I arrived at what I thought to be the finish line there was a sign pointing me to a U turn and a run a half mile through a park to the real finish line. It helped me to know that even when you think that you have nothing left, you really do.

I hope that this is true for the Black Lives Matter Movement and for our successful completion of the Pandemic. The Black Lives Matter Movement has had many moments when we thought that this must be the end. We catch our breath thinking that we have finally achieved justice for black people when another senseless killing of a black person occurs. This is certainly true with the recent decision in the Breonna Taylor decision which seems to lack transparency. Somebody moved the finish line, and we have to dig deep and keep moving forward to a vision of right actions seen ahead. This is hard to do. People depend on the Movement giving up. It shows that they never ran in a race for every great runner knows that even when they give it their all, there is still more that they can find deep in their soul.

The same is true for our experience with the Pandemic. The finish line has moved more times than I can count starting with President Trump’s magical thinking that “it will just go away.”

The date of a possible vaccine has moved constantly with no identified real finish line in sight. We all keep powering forward, pacing ourselves if you will, but this is very hard to do with no finish line in view ahead. I believe that this factor is the single most devastating part of our human nature that is weighing us down. Human beings need finish lines to cope. Even in the worst possible scenarios such as dealing with a terminal illness, we will ask that question that comes from the depth of our soul, “How much time do I have left?” We ask it for we need to know our finish line. It is the way that we are built.

This makes Jesus’ last words from the cross even more profound in terms of his being both human and divine. He uses the word, tetelestai in the Greek. It means, “It is finished”, another finish line that leads to the Resurrection which is at the heart of the Gospel.

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