The most useless statistic in the sports world is the halftime score. Nothing has been decided. There is no winner and no trophy; nothing is final. The second half may be a reversal of the first half. It is the second half that will reveal stamina, endurance, determination, and that intangible ingredient, called “heart.”
“Excitement and ignorance” can get you halfway through any project. Most projects, events, or relationships begin with great enthusiasm and anticipation, but about halfway through, the excitement has to turn into determination and commitment, and ignorance has to turn to strategy, planning, and knowledge if the thing is to succeed.
One can observe this in sports, community service, marriage, church life or remodeling a house, and it seems a common denominator in much of what we endeavor. All begin with peak excitement. Then, the reality hits that there is a long way to go to the finish.
I have recently been reminded of this as the church I lead moved through a three-year relocation project. The anticipation of a new home and nicer, more effective facilities was overflowing as we began. Projects of this size often take longer than expected and have surprises not planned on. At those points, determination, commitment, and vision have to take over.
In the Old Testament, a man named Nehemiah was challenged to rebuild Jerusalem’s broken city walls in only fifty- two days. The process began with everyone believing this was the best thing that had happened in seventy years, and they worked with all their hearts.
With the project halfway finished and rubble from the fallen walls still stacked all around, the people’s strength began to wane. To add to their challenge, enemies threatened attack and naysayers told them they could not finish. This led to a fear that nearly paralyzed them. With a sense of failure they said, “We cannot rebuild the walls.”
They faced the halfway challenge. It was a crisis of vision and character. Would they give in to their frustrations, fatigue, fear, and failure, or would they move into the second half resolved to finish? Nehemiah stepped up and reminded them of the purpose, the vision, and the benefits of completing the project. Through his leadership, the people found resources within themselves that they did not realize they had, and with commitment and dedication they finished the walls. The victory was worth the second half effort that had cost them all the resources they had.
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Far more important than sporting events are life and the issues that really count, such as marriages, family, human relationships, and community service. All have a sense of allure and romanticism at the onset, but the disappointments, hurts, frustration, and fatigue are never very far below the enthusiasm, and are sure to surface as the effort wears on. Today the often popular choice is to walk away, to give up. An exit seems easier. In truth, however, finishing the course has the greater benefits and blessings. Exercising character and endurance in these life challenges pays off in the end.
We often need help at the halfway crisis. Nehemiah’s people would have quit had he not stood up and reminded them of what was at stake. When the inevitable halfway disenchantment hits hard, we often need our own Nehemiah in the form of credible friends, pastors, priests, rabbis, or counselors to underscore the truth that the worthiness of completing overpowers the lies of quitting.
The second half is incredibly hard. Sometimes it takes the last ounce of character and strength, but I can tell you it is worth it to finish a cause. For me seeing the blessings of a new building makes every struggle worth it. Celebrating forty-five years of marriage makes every day an ongoing joy. Finishing the second half gives stability to an unstable society. It gives hope for the younger generations when they face a difficult future. So don’t quit. Move through the halfway point confident that the greater effort needed is but prelude for the greater benefits to come.
Reverend Dennis Henderson
Sherman Bible Church
2515 W. Lamberth Street
Sherman TX 75092