One of my desires is to run my race with joy.

Regardless of good intentions, it's easy to slip into grumbling and complaining without even realizing it. We fuss about the finances or lack of time to accomplish our goals. Then we justify our complaining by trying to cover it up with "faith" and "prayer" when in reality we're only fooling ourselves--and hindering the plan of God because of the murmuring of our heart.

Don't believe me?

Check out the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness. The Bible says, "It is eleven days' journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea. Now it came to pass in the 40th year... Moses spoke to the children of Israel..." (Deuteronomy 1:2-3). Forty years after they left Egypt, the Israelites are still on the journey that was only supposed to take 11 days!

Why? Because they murmured and complained about every little thing. The whole congregation complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt...!" (Exodus 16:3).

But don't judge them. You and I have are guilty too. Maybe the wise writer of Ecclesiastes said it best: "Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride" (7:8).

Other translations read: "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit" (Amplified). "Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out" (Message).

One thing I don't lack is persistence. When I start something, I will finish it. If I promise to complete a task every week at the same time, you can count on it getting done. BUT... sadly, I haven't always done it with joy. If my lips aren't grumbling under the pressure, my body language might be. And I don't like that weakness in my life, so I've got a new determination to run my race with joy this year.

No matter what comes my way, or how tempted I am under the pressure, I am determined to have the same testimony as the Apostle Paul, who said, "None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). 

In other words, "My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus..." --IN JOY!

Remember this truth: How can we testify of His grace in our life unless we operate in it every day when we're tempted to do otherwise?

So the goal is not in how we start something, but how we run the race. Let's keep our eye on the prize. The end of a thing is better than its beginning.