My friend Monica Sharman sometimes goes online and types in “Jean Fleming” to see what’s happening with my books. I went on once, typed in my name, and found lots of Jean Flemings that are not me. There is even an obituary page just for Jean Flemings. Recently, Monica sent me a photo of Jean Fleming taking a fence. The caption read, “ultra consistent Jean Fleming second again.” This Irish racehorse shares my name, too. The racing world’s assessment of Jean Fleming’s career so far is “ultra consistent” and “second again.”
I have a racing career, too. Although we often use the word “career” to describe our profession or line of work, the term refers to our course, a term taken from the race track. As the apostle Paul neared the end of his life, he wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7). The writer of Hebrews pens a similar idea: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1,2).
What got me started thinking about my career was two phrases from Acts 13:
One, “And as John was finishing his course…” (Acts 13:25). John the Baptist was nearing the end of his race. Although John was beheaded while still in his thirties, he fulfilled his calling and sent powerful words of testimony echoing into the present.
Two, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…” (Acts 13:36). The Amplified translation uses this phrase, “After he had served God’s will and purpose and counsel in his own generation…”
The Lord God has given you and me a race to run, too. The course begins at conversion to Jesus Christ and ends at death. No two careers are alike. But let’s aspire to complete the course, whatever shape it takes, looking to Jesus. As I think about it, I’d be happy to be ultra consistent and always second.
Live the mystery!