The first time our family hiked the Grand Canyon, some of us were dragging. And then my father promised ice cream when we got to the top. I won’t say which of my siblings, but one of us became very motivated and was basically the first to the rim, because...ice cream, duh!
Somehow we think this is a childish attitude, to do something hard because there is a reward at the end. But really why else would we do something difficult? To help someone else – that’s a reward. To avoid punishment or pain (or a nagging boss) – also rewards. To make something else possible, to gain a sense of accomplishment or significance, to enjoy rest – all rewards.
So there is nothing unspiritual about God promising followers of Jesus rewards in heaven. There is nothing immature about anticipating eternity in paradise. Nothing second class about reminding ourselves and others that the trials of this world will be fade, pain will be left behind, conflict will cease, and we will be changed, fully healed. The glories of eternity will fully eclipse our suffering and all evil will be lost in the face of our Savior, Jesus. Those are the promises.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18 (And that was written by a man who was stoned, beaten, put on trial, imprisoned, and shipwrecked for the gospel of Jesus of Christ.)
“I don’t know where God will take him. But I do know that God will lead us if we just do the next right thing.” I heard myself speaking and wanted to laugh. How many times I heard that exact advice when I was a young adult I couldn’t begin to count.
The amount of angst I suffered in my high school and college years trying to find God’s will was considerable. My mother, my father, my pastors, and multiple speakers gave me that exact piece of advice...and I didn’t want to hear it. I thought for sure that they were missing something, that there was some way to push God to go faster. It took me about two decades to figure out – there isn’t and that is a good thing. As much as we may want God to give us a blow by blow rundown for life, we can’t handle it. Because the just shall live by faith.
I can’t imagine how frustrated my parents, in particular, were with my inability to truly comprehend their advice especially since, now that I consider it, I don’t think there was a way to make me understand any faster than I did.
How patient God is with us. Repeating His instructions. Reiterating His promises. Restating His goals. And waiting for us to internalize what He has been saying all along.
Water runs downhill, as my engineer father often says. He’s right I realized yet again while sitting in my car watching a torrential spring downpour.
The rain always flowed the same direction...downhill (shocker!). But this storm system came with gusting wind and the wind happened to be going uphill. As furious blasts of wind rocked my car, I noticed that for a moment the water stopped running downhill. It paused and puddled until the wind receded. Then the rain went right back to doing what physics says it must.
Sometimes we live in those gusts of wind. Evil looks like it is winning. Wrong has the upper hand. The world is so dark and angry it looks like God is losing. But just as water always runs downhill. God’s kingdom flows downhill. The wind eventually loses speed and strength, and the water continues doing what the laws of physics say it must. Satan and his horde will be overcome. God’s plans will be victorious. Because the laws of spiritual physics say,
“The Lamb will overcome them, for He is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”– Revelation 17:14
At the end of the day, each of us gets one shot at life. What most people forget/never realize is that the way we spend our time is what determines whether that shot hits the target or not. Time is life. And if we love and obey Christ, our lives are His and, thus, our time is His.
Each time I wear my bullet necklace, I think about these truths and reevaluate. Am I making my shot count? Am I too fixated trying to make my life look pretty to those around me that I would refuse God's direction if He wanted something I considered "ugly"? Would I want God to pick up my life right now and examine it? And if He did, would He be pleased?
I know. All that from a lousy necklace.
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.