Congratulations to all of you who have made it to this last week of 2017. It is indeed countdown to the end of the year in days, in fact in hours. We are approaching the finishing line. As the year is winding down, what is very important is that we must finish strong in order to start the New Year great and well.

Life can essentially be likened to individual sports such as cycling, diving, swimming, or running of 100/200 metres race. In the racecourse, participants rely mainly on their individual skills for victory. To every racer, the moments that are most important to them are the times for starting and ending the race. They give all concentration to how they are going to lift off the starting line and how they will reach the finishing line.

At the sound of the starting gun, they all speed off as fast as they can be and at the end of the race, where the finishing line is drawn, they also put up a great performance to finish strong. Any racer who approaches the finishing line lackadaisically or carelessly is often overtaken by others.

Just like the racer, at the point of the finishing line (in this case, the end of year), until we still keep a fast pace, finish strong, and cross the line neat, the crown eludes us. The end of each year closes one chapter of our lives and the beginning of the year opens a new chapter. Starting every New Year is likened to a racer who takes off at the sound of the starting gun. He is mentally alert, emotionally organized, physically ready and even spiritually focused. Nothing distracts him at that moment. 

More often than not, many persons who started the year well are tempted to slow down at the end of the year, may be because of some disappointments they met during the course of the year. 

But the very decisive fact that must be stated at this point is that, it is the spirit you finish one phase that determines the spirit you enter into the next phase. The spirit you close one chapter determines the spirit you begin the next chapter. The attitude of mind you use in closing each year determines the mentality you use in starting a new one. How you end this year will bear directly on and decide how you begin next year. Finishing one year badly is an indication of not preparing well for the next year. It is, therefore, very risky to finish badly.

The state and attitude of your mind in the last week, especially the last day of each year, determines the state and attitude of your mind at the beginning of the New Year, especially the first day of the New Year. The mindset and physical readiness a good racer or athlete finishes his 100 or 200 metres dash is the same attitude we must finish 2017 if we must start 2018 and make it a year of far greater results.

Do you know that we don’t think intermittently, but think in continuous streams? The attitude of our thoughts at the finishing point of one phase determines the attitude of our thoughts in the beginning point of another phase because there is always a connection in thoughts. What we think today has a strong bearing on what happens tomorrow. 

So, however you fared this year, even if you made mistakes at some point, that shouldn’t make you end in hopelessness. Don’t let any ugly past define your future; no matter how you look at it, you are not a failure. Making mistakes don't make you a failure until there is faith failure. Brace up, engage the second wind, believe that God is on your side, and cross the finishing line in a grand style. Remember, the line where every race ends is the point all good and victorious athletes are most serious.

How do you finish strong? You do so by taking stock of how you fared this year. Note the successes you recorded and give yourself a pat on the back. Also identify where you missed it and note the lessons learnt. Warren G. Harding, a past American president said that, “It is everlastingly true that on the whole of the best guide to the future is to be found in a proper understanding of the lessons of the past.”