TD Jakes - The Grace to Finish
I'm going to talk to you about three different ways of understanding how to finish things. Okay? So you can have the grace to finish. It's a wonderful thing to finish. The grace to finish. You have interruptions. You have frustrations. But the grace to finish is given to you by God. It is a God given grace to finish. One of the characteristics of being a Christian is that we finish. We finish. We don't start things. We're not just Alpha, we're Omega. If you're going to be like God you got to finish. Finish it. You'll never be free in your spirit until it's finished. What's that called? It's called bringing closure. Have closure. Finish it. If it's over, it's over. Finish it. Let's get finished, because I can't go on, if I'm not finished.
You can't be free to marry somebody else if you're in love with somebody. You gotta finish it. You got to be able to resolve those issues so that you can move into the future. I hate to see people join our church mad at another ministry. Because they bring all that hostility, all that bad spirit over here, and that spirit of discontentment's gonna get in here. It won't be long before they fell out with somebody. The moment they don't get a position, or don't get to run things the way they think it ought to be done they're going to be talking about us too. So I just say, "Wait. Wait, just finish it. Where you are, bring closure, so that you can come over here without having an old, bad, nasty spirit".
Man, if you're going to be effective at finishing what God has given you to do, whatever it is. Whether it's business, whether it's raising a child, whether it's starting a company, whether it's writing a book, or whatever it is. And it's a major project. You have to be prepared, number one, to finish in phases. To finish in phases. You attack a big project by phases. David went down there to whip Goliath. He went down there to kill him, but he didn't start out by killing him. He had to confront him, he had to attack him, and then he had to assassinate him. He knocked him down before he knocked him out. You have to finish in phases. It takes phases. To whom much is given, much is required. You have to finish in phases. Somebody say, "I'm gonna finish in phases".
Why are phases important? Phases are very important, because when you finish something there is a satiety that comes into your spirit, a satisfaction that is derived from completion. And when it is a mammoth project you cannot wait until the end of the project to have that feeling because that feeling releases creative power for you to function again. So a lot of times when you have a long project. You are trying to lose 100 pounds, trying to lose 100 pounds. And you say, "When I get to 100 pounds I'm going to celebrate". That's gonna be a while. So you might need to have ten celebrations. Every ten pounds you need to celebrate. Now don't celebrate with no cheesecake's. I tried that. That don't work. But you need to have little benchmarks along the way whereby you say, "I've completed this phase". Because your spirit is rejuvenated by the feeling of finishing.
Look at God who created the earth. Actually in six days, but at the end of each day he looked back on what he had created and said, "That was good". He created the earth in six, actually to be specific he created the earth in five phases. On the sixth day he created man. He created the earth in five phases, and at the end of each phase he celebrated the completion of that phase even though the entire project wasn't finished. If you don't learn how to finish in phases, and some of you would finish in phases, but you're surrounded by someone who doesn't have that understanding. And so just because you're not finished with the whole project, they're always telling you what you haven't done rather than celebrating what you have done. But you see it's bad not to celebrate what you have done, because when you celebrate the completion of the first phase it releases your mind. It releases the spiritual endorphins you need to be creative again.
God knew when he said, "Let there be light," and there was light and the evening and the morning was the first day. He knew that the firmaments above the waters were not separated from the firmaments that were beneath the waters. He knew that he had not created the lesser lives nor the greater lives. He knew that he had not spoken to the waters and said, "Bring forth," nor had he spoken to the heavens and said "Bring forth". He understood all of that but he still said, "That's good. This might still be muddy, that's still not inhabited, this hadn't been completed yet, but this much is good". Until you learn to be thankful for the part that God has given you the grace to finish you won't have the power to go forward in your life. Relationships fall apart because people are so busy complaining about what their husband is not that they don't celebrate what is. And people finally get tired when they make steps and they make progress and nobody acknowledges the progress. You get tired. You give up. You say, "You're too hard to please. You always point out what's wrong with me, and never what's right with me. Now I'm through going up the steps because you have not acknowledged the progress that I have made". You need somebody in your life who can celebrate the completion of a phase.
Great projects require phases. You're in a building project, you finishes in phases. This ministry is finishing in phases. We're not finished. The building of this church is not the end of this vision, but we have to do things in phases. You have to do it in phases. "To him who much is given, much is required". You're trying to change your life. You're trying to break old habits. You're trying to break generational curses. You have to finish in phases. You're trying to break old habits, a habit that is way down inside of you, way down inside of you. You've never stuck with anybody through anything. You've always been a quitter. You've got to admit that. "I've always been a quitter". And if you can't admit, you can't change it. "And whatever's wrong with me I got to work on it. If it's drag one leg and push my toe, I got to get where I'm trying to go, and work with what God gave me".
You can't give up on yourself. And if you have to teach yourself. If you have to mentor yourself. If you have to train yourself. If you have to preach to yourself. If you have to talk to yourself all the way to work every morning and say, "I will not flip out today. I don't care what they say. I don't care what they do. I will not flip out today. I have got to get the victory over them. I am not going to lose this job". It's not about the job. It's not about the money. It's you working on you. It's the turnaround that you need; it's the makeover that you need; and you gotta work on yourself, because it's hard to find anybody who loves you enough to work on you. You gotta finish in phases. Don't give up on yourself. You gotta finish in phases. You may have a whole lot of stuff to do. Never been exposed to anything. Never been around anything. Never knew that you could live another kind of life. And you may have all kinds of issues, and you may have to attack them one at a time. Never give up on yourself. You got to finish in phases.
Number two. Paul says to Timothy something that's very profound. He said, "I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith". He said, "I have finished my course". Number two, you have to finish your course. You can't finish another man's course. You can't do it. You cannot do it. You cannot finish another man's course. You can't finish your kids' course. You can't finish your boyfriend's course. You can't finish your sister's course. Stop trying to live vicariously through other people. You cannot do it. You've got to finish your course. Your course is not my course. So if you will not feel successful until you do what I did, you will never feel successful, because God will not give you the grace to do my mission.
Paul told Timothy, it's one preacher talking to another preacher. He said, "I finished my course". Now the whole world wasn't saved. Everybody wasn't delivered. There wasn't peace everywhere. But Paul understood the extent of his assignment. "I have finished my course". You cannot measure your course by the crisis you're surrounded with. I told you this once before, but this is really good. It speaks to me. Jesus told Judas something that really spoke to me. He said, "The poor you have with you always". You know something, I'm telling you something that really blessed my life. "The poor you have with you always". Because I'm a person I always want to fix everything, and resolve everything, and change everything. There are some problems that will always be. Doesn't mean you can't help. Doesn't mean you can't contribute. But you have got to accept the fact that God didn't send you here to straighten out the world. Some of you don't understand your course. Success is finishing your course.
Have you ever noticed that when you're in a fight you get strength you didn't have before? That's God giving you the grace to finish. You're up under attack, you're in a war. Jesus said, "You don't go to war and not count on what it takes to finish". He said, "When you're in the heat of the battle I'll give you special grace". Jesus died to give you that grace. The Bible says that, "We may come boldly to the throne of grace. That we might obtain mercy. And find grace to help in the time of need". Grace to help in the time of need. Grace to help in the time of need. God said, "I won't give you that grace until you need it". Look your neighbor in the eye and say, "I'm going to finish my course. Come hell or high water I'm going to finish my course".
Paul says, "I'm in jail. I'm gonna finish my course". He's in jail now, he's in jail, he's in the prison, he's in the dungeon in a cold, dark room taking little slivers of paper. Writing notes. He can't preach anymore. They're getting ready to take his life, and he's writing, administrating, running businesses. Tell Timothy. Tell Titus. Write on to Philemon and tell him these words. Tell him, "Thus saith the word of the Lord". Faithful until death. God said, "Be thou faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life". God said, "I'm not giving you crowns to make you feel good. I'm not going to give you crowns so you have something to wear with your outfit". He said, "These crowns will cost you something". My God.
And when God gives you a crown, whether it's on the other side or on this side, because I think that the blessings of the Lord are crowns God gives you for the battles that you've endured. And when God gives you a crown don't let anybody spit on your crown. Don't let anybody despise because God decided to reward you. Don't let anybody despise your crown nor make you take it off, now become ashamed of how God blessed you, because they weren't there when you were in the furnace of affliction. How can you decide my pay when you haven't seen my hours? You haven't determined my tear. You haven't determined my conflict. How dare you say what my life is worth! Only God can pay me for what I've been doing.
Shake your neighbor by the hand and look them in the eye and say, "Finish"! God's given you the grace to finish. Finish your commitment. Finish your relationship. Finish what you promised yourself. Finish. Come hell or high water, finish. I know it hurts, but finish. I know they broke your heart, but finish. Finish it. Stand there, tears running down your face, and finish it. I promise you, for better, for worse, in sickness, and health, for richer, or poorer, I gonna finish. I don't even feel like finishing. My emotions are crazy. My mind is confused. But having done all the stairs I'm going to stand. If you don't get this certain face you'll become frustrated by your vision, because your vision is further than your days. You're not meant to do everything you can see. You're meant to start it. You're meant to run your course. But sooner or later you have to pass the baton to the next runner. Even though you can see his course, you're not meant to run it. And don't let your vision make fell you like a failure. Because you're not responsible for everything you can see. You're only responsible for your course.
If I hired Pastor Robinson, I say, "I want you to plant. I want you to sow the feed". And I said, "I want you to water the seed". All he is supposed to do is plant it. He can see that it needs water but that's not his course. Once he's planted it all he has to do is say, "I've finished my course". And he says, "Now that you've planted it I can water it". She can't water what he hadn't planted. That's why you gotta follow somebody who knows where they're going because if you don't do what he told you to do it'll mess up what I'm supposed to do. I can't do mine until you do yours, and when you do yours pass me the baton.
Some of you right now you should already, even though it may be ten years down the road, or twenty years down the road, or five years down the road, you should already be looking for the next runner. Come here Pastor. Come here. Come here. Come here. See if we're in a race together and you've got the baton and you're going to pass it to me, I've got to run with you. And then we pass it so already. I've got the rhythm. They can see. You gotta have a little period. Y'all hear what I'm saying to you? You've got to get the rhythm before you get the baton. I'm already looking for somebody who has got the rhythm. I'm not even ready to pass yet. But you ought to be looking through, trying to find somebody who's got the rhythm, and the anointing, because I can see it.
Oh God. Oh God, I got to stop. Sit down, sit down, please. Sit down, sit down. Oh God, I feel God up in here y'all. I feel God up in here y'all. Hallelujah. Look at this. I'm going to read it in the NIV because you might be reading it in King James, but follow along because this is bad. "I have seen the burden God has laid on man," verse ten. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set, "this is a burden. He's made everything beautiful in its time, Lord have mercy. It's beautiful. When it's your time it's a beautiful thing. But the beauty of your time is also a burden, because you want your time to be forever. But it's not. "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men". He has set eternity, your Bible says the worlds. He said, "Eternity in the hearts of men. Yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end".
God has put more in you than you can finish. And your burden is, not can you finish your course because you can do that, but you can't finish all that God is going to do from beginning to end because God is eternal and you're temporal. So you're going to see further than you're going to go. "I know that there is nothing better for man than to be happy and to do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil. This is the gift of God". God made for you to be happy in your time. Enjoy your time. Not be frustrated by what isn't done, what somebody else needs to do, who needs to run the last lap. How's this project going to go? What are my grandkids going to turn out to be? What are my children going to do? All of that's going to work out in time.
"I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing can be taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before. And God will call the past to account". Let me finish. The burden that you have, people of vision, is that you've got eternity in your heart. And yet you're a creature of time. God doesn't make you responsible for everything you can see. He only holds you accountable to your course. You will see further than you will go. That is why it is important that all along the way, with all that you can in the midst of all of your imperfections, teach your children to finish the course.
I'm going to plan it, baby. I'm going to run as long as I can. When I drop it you grab the baton, and you water what I planted. I'm going to dig the well. You may have to re-dig it and come behind me and unearth it. I'm going to get it started. I'm going to break up the soil. You've got to pass the baton to the next generation. And until our churches become as concerned about teaching our children as we are as Heaven good music. When we get to the point that we want to be taught more than be shouted and preached to. When we want the whole roll and not just half. Then we will impregnate the next generation with our fire, with our drive, and with our enthusiasm.
I'll close with this. God told Israel when they came down to the Jordan he said, "I want your priests. Every place their feet stood firm". Which means their feet didn't stand firm everywhere. But he said, "Every place your feet stood firm, pull up a stone, and carry it out". They were huge stones, and not stones in your hand. They were stones on your shoulders. Carried this stone out. Why am I carrying this stone out? He said, "Because I want you to build a memorial where your feet stood firm so that when your children pass by they can see that God was with you when you crossed over the Jordan".
God I got to pray. I want to leave a memorial behind. Yes daddy went through hell and high water. My feet didn't always stand firm. They slipped sometime. But I didn't leave you no rocks from where I slipped. I left you some rocks from where my feet stood firm. And let the record show that when I passed through the Jordan I didn't come through by myself. If it had not been for the Lord that was on my side. I got to go. I'm sorry. I got to stop. Touch somebody and say, "God, help me". He helped my through the crisis. He helped me through the sickness. He helped me through the divorce. He helped me through the pain. He helped me through the death. He helped me through the funeral. I would have lost my mind, but God helped me.