But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
Call me a nerd, but I love history! It’s no wonder that the book of Acts is one of my favorite books of the Bible. It’s basically like the Genesis of the New Testament, but it only covers the first 30 or so years of the early Church. The book begins with Jesus returning to God’s presence, and in return He gave the world the Comforter just as He had promised.
This entire book is full of lives radically transformed by the Holy Spirit. Peter, the guy who denied Jesus, just 50 days prior was preaching the Gospel to thousands on the day of Pentecost! Paul, a persecutor of Christians and an accomplice of their murders, ended up becoming one of the most influential leaders of the Church and dedicated his entire life to Jesus. These are just two people that immediately popped into my mind, but there are SO many more!
What was so amazing about these early Christians was that they boldly ministered to the lost and waited expectantly for Christ’s imminent return. Nothing really deterred them! Of all people, they knew how unglamorous and how dangerous it was to be a follower of Christ, but they literally laid down their lives for God’s kingdom. Why? Here’s an immeasurably harder question to answer. Do you see that kind of abandoned devotion and determination in your life?
I’ll take a whack at answering “why?” They believed that the hardships of this world could not even compare to the abundance and glory of the world to come. Why else would Christians face martyrdom? Jesus left with the intent of preparing a place for us. We have a HOME to look forward to! This mortal flesh will one day take on immortality, and we will abide with Jesus forever.
Do you really understand what that means? After enduring this crazy, dark, broken, wonderful, and hard life, have you imagined that moment when you FINALLY meet Christ face to face? Will your heart melt or quake at the sight of Him? Will you grin shyly as He confidently calls your name just as you heard Him say countless of times as a whisper? I imagine that I’ll be a basket case as I run headlong for the most anticipated hug of the millennium. (I can’t tell you how many nights I have cried out to God during some of my darkest times just begging for Him to physically hold me, but I’ll have to make due with “heavenly hugs” from my brothers and sisters for now.)
What will He say to you? I don’t know about you, but my greatest desire is to meet Jesus face to face and hear Him say the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Can you imagine hearing anything sweeter at your finish line after running the hardest relay/marathon ever? Don’t lag behind in the end, but finish strong my friends!
I’ll be honest. There are days where I seriously wonder if I will ever complete my race. I’m just really impatient, but I know that Divine love has a greater plan than my feeble mind could ever conceive. Waiting is hard folks! It’s especially hard when you KNOW what’s coming! It’s like somehow trying to choke down dry meatloaf with a side of plain cabbage for dinner while the triple layer chocolate fudge cake just sits there on the counter. I just want my desert with Jesus!
For ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Hebrews 10:36-37
Not only is that comforting, but it’s also convicting. As I wait for heaven, I can’t just stand here looking up to the sky waiting to be taken up. That’s unwanted attention from strangers and completely pointless. You are still living and breathing on this planet children of God because your chapter in His story is not finished yet. You have a mission to complete. Now go do it. If you have no idea what your personal mission is then you need to ask God to reveal His will through His Word and through fasting and prayer. Don’t worry; you have your whole life to work on it. Then you will receive the greatest promotion ever!
For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21