What an exciting game! And what a come back. But the Saints’ theme all season has been to “finish strong”. And, that is exactly what they did.
Once again the Saints can be a witness to all of us to finish strong in our own lives.
Many of you may be aware of the book Drew Brees handed out to all his teammates this past summer entitled, Finish Strong. It included testimonies of many people who seemed to have a hopeless situation. They seemed to be the “underdog,” amidst great adversity. But all of them somehow had great courage to push forward full force in their lives, not allowing negativity, discouragement and despair to take hold of them.
A key phrase in the book is, “Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” It asks its readers, “How will you respond to the challenges before you?”
It encourages people to make the most of the challenges we face. Because, the truth is, it is precisely the challenges in our lives that can make us better people. That can build character. That can help us to become the fullness of what we were created to be. Just as we are told in Scripture, “All things work for the good for those who love God” and “It is in our weakness that we are made strong.”
Although many people who adapt the “finish strong” attitude go on to do great things in the world, it is primarily an interior disposition and more often may not present itself as success in the world.
The most important key of the “finish strong” mentality, in order for it to be truly good, is that we are finishing strong in God’s will for us in every given circumstance, not in what the spirit of the world, the flesh, or the devil wants us to be.
Many people finish strong in their lives, but for the bad… such as Hitler, Jim Jones, and I’m sure many people you could name today who are striving to finish strong with their own agenda in life, not God’s. (And anyone who has their own agenda, underlying it is really Satan’s as well.)
Many people also finish strong in the world, for good. We see clearly religious people such as Mother Teresa, but also those who serve God and others through their faithfulness to duties, whether it be playing football or sweeping floors. Discerning our motive is the key in knowing whether we’re doing it for ourselves and our own agenda, or for God.
The one who is our ultimate model in what it means to finish strong is the one who is lifted high on the cross in His ultimate act of finishing strong. And, what are the attributes that we see in this depiction? Total: surrender to the Father and His will, sacrifice of His whole self, and trust in the Father’s love and providential plan.
Jesus is the model that all the saints of Heaven (beginning with Mary) followed in order to defeat the snares and temptations of the enemy and finish strong in the unique mission and plan God had for their lives. And, we who are sinners striving to be saints are called to follow in their footsteps.
St. Paul tells us, “one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).
This is the ultimate finishing strong to which we’re all called. It may not be seen as a great victory as was seen Sunday evening when the Saints won the World Championship; neither was Christ’s.
But then He rose.
The New Oorleans Saints witnessed to us in the temporal realm what we’re all called to as saints of God in the spiritual realm.
And, again, the key elements are surrender and child-like trust in God’s providential care. He has a very special plan and mission for each of us beginning in this life. And, if we cooperate with His grace and plan, we can be told what Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what the Lord promised would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45).