Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Mid-Week Message - The Struggle is Worth It

"I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3:10-14 (NIV)  

I appreciate the life that Paul led and the letters that he left behind so that we could know how dear the Lord was to him and how everything he did was done with Heaven in mind.  Of course we know the story that previous to meeting Jesus, Paul, or rather Saul, was a persecutor of Christians.  But when he met the Savior, everything changed.  His life was spent spreading the Good News, for which he endured unspeakable suffering.  But he didn't give up and he found joy in the struggles he encountered because he knew that there was a reward awaiting him that would be greater than he could imagine.  

I wonder how many of us are able to keep that in mind as we encounter the difficulties of daily life.  I have many friends in full-time Christian service and it isn't an easy life.  Moreover, I hear and read stories of missionaries in foreign lands who endure great hardship, including the threat of torture and even death.  They chose to leave behind the conveniences and comfort of their lives here in order to carry Christ's love to those who haven't had the chance to hear that there is a Redeemer who laid down His own life so that we on earth could have an everlasting future with Him.  

Several times a day I utter the words, "I'm tired."  And I am.  My body doesn't work the way it used to and just going through whatever the day requires of me is tedious at best.  Some days, my pain level makes me want to sleep the day away because when I am asleep is the only time that I am truly pain free.  Yet, if I give in to that desire then I am unable to focus on what is more important.  If I am sleeping, I am not praying for the many on my prayer list.  If I am sleeping then I am not reaching out to others that I know need encouragement.  And I am reminded that my life is not my own, but belongs to the One who paid an enormous price to redeem it and therefore deserves for it to be used for His glory.  

Paul set an example for each of us to follow.  No matter what he encountered, whether it be shipwrecks, beatings, illnesses, imprisonment or attempts on his life, he kept praising the Lord and sharing His message with everyone that was around him.  He didn't give in to pain or let exhaustion cease his efforts.  He knew that his time on this planet was temporary and that he had a limited amount of time to accomplish as much as he could for Jesus.  He seized every moment handed to him to make an eternal difference.  I'm sure he had moments of discouragement, moments of saying, "I'm tired."  But then he put them aside and continued on what he knew to be the better path.  

We have a finite time upon this orb.  Our days are limited.  If we do not fill our days with Heavenly purpose, then we are missing the mark.  God has us planted us where we are for reasons we may not be aware of.  Our response should be to take hold of the resources and opportunities that come our way and use them for His glory.  We each have a mission field.  We just have to realize it, and, with our hands firmly in His, go forth and boldly represent Him.  If we need a guide to show us how to take each step then we can read about Paul and, as he did, press forward toward the goal to win the prize that is waiting for us when we are called home.  It will be worth any struggle we encounter, no matter how tired we may get.  God bless.

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