Taking the Long Look
"...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2-3
School. It can seem sooo long, can't it? When I went back to school in 1996 to get my seminary degree, I remember thinking as I looked at the degree plan for an MDIV: 92 semester hours ... wow, this is going to take a long time. About halfway into the degree, it started to seem like I would NEVER finish. A big part of me wanted to throw in the towel. But, after nearly 5 years of not giving up, semester after semester, I finally graduated in December of 2000. And it was so worth it.
What seemed like an endless, grueling experience at the time is now just a pleasant, distant memory.
Are you facing some long and arduous days right now? Perhaps you are in school and silently wondering if you'll ever finish. Perhaps you are taking care of preschoolers, wondering if life will always be this exhausting. Perhaps you are going through some serious problems in marriage and family, or business, or ministry ... and starting to doubt if things will ever get better.
In the grinder called life, it is easy to lose sight of the finish line. It is easy to lose the forest because of all the trees. But God reminds us that the way to overcome the especially tough times in life is to keep looking forward.
How in the world could Jesus endure the cross? He kept the joy before Him. He kept seeing the finish line and the tremendous payout on the other side. You and I need to do the same.
SNAP SHOTS vs. END SHOTS
We all have a tendency to see life in a snap shot. Whatever we are experiencing right now is our current reality and sets the stage for our happiness or our sadness, depending on the circumstances. Taking an "end shot" to offset the snap shot is a much better way to live.
God is using all the unpleasant circumstances in your life and mine to mold us and make us into the person He wants us to be. Tears and heartaches are NOT wasted; they are used to teach us to depend upon Him.
When all is said and done, the real test of a disciple is not ingenuity, creativity, or some unknown intangible. The real test is simple obedience, to be faithful to do what the Lord has called you to do until He calls you home. And the fuel to do what He has called you to do is to keep your eyes on the Lord who stands at the finish line. The little couplet says it best, "Though the pathway to glory, may sometimes seem dreary, it pays to serve Jesus every day."
God is at work in you and me. Let's not lose sight of the bigger picture of what He is doing and what He has in store for those who are faithful until death.
To read additional devotionals click here.
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.