I don’t profess to be much of a runner. In fact, it’s not my jam at all. I don’t enjoy anything about running. I’ll play basketball or soccer for hours, but running just to run is not in my list of hobbies. However, my wife loves to run. She ran cross-country in college and still tries to run a half-marathon about twice a year. And because of her running passion and knowledge, I’ve gotten a little glimpse into the way runners “kick.”

You probably know a little about this too if you’ve ever seen any of the distance races in the Olympics or anything like that. But a runner’s “kick” is the last little bit of the race where they “kick” it into high gear for one final push. They pace themselves throughout the whole race until the last 200 meters, 100 meters, however long, and then they give everything they have left in the tank to get across that finish line as fast as possible. A runner’s “kick” provides dramatic comebacks, photo finishes, glory and sometimes heartbreak. Runners “kick” so that they can finish strong.And as we’re wrapping up 2018, that’s exactly what we’re being pressured to do. Make sure to hit those sales targets. Remember that New Year’s resolution? Better get cracking because you’ve only got a few days left. Don’t forget to see all of your family in three days for the first time since last December. Those Christmas presents better be incredible and thoughtful.

Just reading through that list again gives me a twinge of anxiety. But those are all pressures that we put on ourselves. Pressures to make sure that 2018 is everything we hoped and dreamed it would be back in January. Pressures to make December count because the slate is wiped clean on January 1, 2019, and we have a new year with new goals and new hopes. And I think that a lot of those things are admirable. I want to maximize and make the most of this last month that we have.

But there’s another important aspect to finishing strong that runners, bosses and Instagram “entrepreneurs” won’t tell you. And it’s rest.

That’s right. Taking a second to breathe, relax and rest might be the best thing you could do to finish strong. Why? Because we both know you’re not actually finishing. While we’d sometimes love to wake up January 1, 2019 with a completely fresh start, that’s not how it works. We don’t get to collapse just past the finish line with our country’s flag being draped over our shoulders and a nice, long day of hot tub, massage and rest ahead of us. The grind picks right back up.

However, we can choose for that last final push to 2019 to not kill us. I’m not going to spend any time talking about how to push to 2019. We all have enough people and influences in our lives telling us how to do that. I want to instead tell you to open up your calendar right now and find where you’re going to hit pause. I’m serious. Open up that calendar and pick at least a day where you’re going to be able to rest, relax and reflect on 2018. Look back at what’s happened and what’s happening right now. Binge some Netflix. Go for a hike. Whatever it is that recharges you, do it.

Why am I so passionate about this? Why am I just spouting off, “Rest! Rest! Rest!”? Because I got a glimpse of what wonders it can do earlier this year.

Near the end of October, the creative team that I work with at Cross Point Church went on a team retreat to Florida, and the goal was for us to learn, be creatively inspired but also to take a deep breath for a couple of days. And luckily, that’s exactly what happened. Stepping away from the day in and day out grind gave each of us a new lens for not just our work, but what’s happening in our church and in our lives.

For me, it gave me fresh ideas, new ways to approach problems, and better trails to run down for this next season. But it also started to give me some clarity. In that rest, there’s no thought of what my next meeting is, or what tasks I might be forgetting or any of the typical day-to-day. In that rest, the clutter went away, and the clarity came forward.

Earlier this year, I wrote about my wife and I praying for “vision” for our lives in 2018. And when I wrote that post, I was frustrated. But I also was learning that maybe I only got to see one step ahead in that season. However, in the rest I felt in October, I started to see more clearly and a little further. In the rest, I learned that God finishes strong too.

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If I’m honest, I had all but given up on “vision” as our 2018 word and figured that seeing one step ahead was good enough. And I was ok with it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But I could feel peace in just trusting each step along the way. But God reminded me that he gave me that word “vision” for a reason.

I’d love to share all of what that’s looking like right now, but I’m honestly still not sure. I just know that over the last few months, I feel like God has slowly started to reveal a little further out and a little further out. A little bit more vision comes with each time I stop, clear my head and truly use that time in prayer and rest. And I think it’s kind of funny that I’m feeling “clarity” in that rest and lack of clutter because isn’t that exactly what “vision” is? Isn’t that exactly what I’ve been praying for? God, cleared away the clutter of the day-to-day so I can see clearly what  He has for my wife and I.

And God taught me a lot through that prayer all year, and much of it was frustrating. But if you’re looking to finish strong in 2018, take some time to rest because God’s looking to finish strong with you, too.