The Immense Reward of Finishing

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. – Romans 1:20

My wife has taken me to many outdoor destinations especially since moving back to Canada in 2018. I have been the tops of mountains, the remotest forest lakes, and parts of the Rocky Mountain wilderness that few have ever laid eyes on (mostly because she likes to stray from the walking paths).

One excursion had us climb up a winding trail in Waterton Park to get to the top of a small mountain called Bear’s Hump. It took us two hours to summit and although the trail was not treacherous, it was physically demanding because of all the “switchbacks” it had. At one point, we got halfway up and stopped at one pivot point in the walking path. We both debated whether or not it was worth it to keep going, knowing that a whole hour had gone by, and we probably had more than that to reach the top. We reluctantly agreed to continue.

Along this journey, we noticed the trees around us. They were not full, green pines and evergreens anymore. A forest fire from two years ago had ravaged most of the trees in the park, and what remained was a blanket of dead foliage. Instead of being wrapped in lush pines, we could see the bare mountains quite clearly. It was not as beautiful to look at, and it seemed oddly appropriate for two people struggling to climb a mountain.

Finally, at 1:30 pm, we reached the summit, and covered in sweat and gasping for air, we stood looking at the township below for the first time. Something supernatural occurred in that moment. Nothing about the landscape had changed, and yet, we found ourselves looking out at it all, and I had never seen anything so beautiful.

Why had that changed? Why did the suffering and the stark landscape end up contributing to such a change in opinion about the nature around us?

The struggle added to the value of it all.

God has a lot to say about suffering. Throughout the New Testament, we read about the immense value that suffering produces. Paul boasts about it. Jesus promises it to those who follow Him. James assures us that it produces endurance and makes us perfect and lacking in nothing.

Yet, most of us don’t enjoy suffering. It is unpleasant. We avoid it at all costs. I honestly would rather have turned around halfway up that mountain, and for reasons that are still hard to explain, we both kept going. The only explanation that I can offer is that we sensed that the struggle of the climb would lead to the reward of completion.

Genesis tells us that through speech, God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days and when He was through, He looked at all He had created and said that it was very good. That is not to say that creating it all was a struggle for God, simply that the effort was worth it because it led to the reward of completion.

So, if you have a project you have started, consider the value in finishing it. Personally, I think about my 20-plus year unfinished novel and I bristle thinking about how I have never written “The End.”

Beyond the unfinished project, though, consider the immense value that this world has to offer for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do something difficult. It’s not difficult for difficult sake, but working through hard things to completion has a way of changing your perspective on the outcome.

Pastor Scott