Finish Line


File photo: 2019 FBCS field events

Perhaps the only thing worse than flubbing the end of a project is not being allowed to complete it at all. You find a measure of satisfaction in crossing any finish line, no matter how exhausted you are, how badly you stumble, or whether your effort ranks as a personal best.

What if the finish line is removed? Or the race cancelled when you are three-quarters of the way through?

For teachers in many communities, the final quarter of the school year found the classrooms empty. The hall lights dimmed themselves. The gym sat vacant. The parking lot refused to fill. Oh, the work continued! Parent packets needed to be stuffed, and then emptied and graded and refilled. Plans made. Tests distributed. Treats awarded. Promises kept. Online forums manned. Assignments collected.

All this without all the things that made it worthwhile – the faces of children, the progress of teens, the final celebrations.

The school year of 2020 will be over, but it will not exactly Finish. You may not hear that click of a door closing for the last time, breathe the satisfied sigh of reaching an expected ending.

Instead of finishing the race yourself, you have handed the baton – to parents, and perhaps to students themselves. Here, take this. I am not legally permitted to finish the task I set myself last fall. Take the baton, and run for the endgame. Suddenly you’re not running with the pack, in the same way as before. You become the friend cheering on the sidelines, the support station offering cool water. You can do it! instead of, Let’s do it together!

There is more pleasure, more resolution, and more glory in finishing yourself. More endorphins, frankly. Who wants to hand off when the finish line is in sight?

But I commend you teachers for doing what needed to be done: for sharing your grit and grace with others, for working faithfully behind the scenes while parents taught the lessons you prepared, and for staying supportive when your students lost ground, or gained it, outside of your reach.

That’s the thing about passing a baton: it’s passed. Your hand isn’t on it anymore.

Perhaps this is how God feels, sharing His work with His children, self-limiting His power to intervene, allowing us to stumble and blunder and take the wrong path by mistake and double back to find it again. He could race better, Himself. But He chooses to let others join His efforts, and He takes a step back and lets us learn to run.

Perhaps the only thing worse than flubbing the end of a project is not being allowed to complete it at all. But you have, through trusting and enabling the steps of others. You’re almost there! We’re almost there!

Well done.

Pass it on:

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Debra Burkholder

4 years ago

Thank you so much for those words!! You nailed it!

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