Last Sunday, Nick spoke on the topic of finishing well through the story of Jacob as he came to Egypt in the final days of his life to "live happily ever after" with Joseph and his other sons in the land that Pharaoh provided for them. I mentioned in the service hearing recently that 90% of pastors do not finish well in their ministries. If those of us who are leaders in the church find it difficult to handle the challenges and difficulties that life can bring, it seems that all of us should take seriously the challenge to remain faithful and finish well no matter what may experience.
Like many of you, I watched a portion of the Oscars Sunday evening after church. And, I enjoyed the highlights from a great film last year, Les Miserables. In that movie, the character Fantine sings "I Dreamed a Dream" as she recounts her many misfortunes and disappointments, summing it all up in the last line with the confession "Oh, life has killed the dream I dreamed." Life certainly takes its toll, doesn't it? That's why the most wise King Solomon wrote, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). No matter what life may bring, it's so important to take inventory of your heart, as you go, and guard it above all else - for it is the treasure of your life to protect!
A friend of mine, Gary Barkalow, wrote in his book It's Your Call: What Are You Doing Here? "God is not running a job-placement agency or a personal-fulfillment task force in regards to our lives. His intention, as Dallas Willard said, is for us 'to live as a co-worker with God in the creative enterprise of life on earth.' God has set this whole story up, and He must and will speak personally to us regarding our part in it."
The encouragement Gary speaks of, that we should always treasure in our hearts, is that no matter how difficult life may seem, God will use every event - every joy and every sorrow - to bring you along as a dearly loved child. And, He wants to speak personally to you about it all, too, so that you will not lose heart before your life is over! I encourage you, dear friends, to seek God out and remain open to His teaching, no matter what life may bring. Keep your eyes fixed on the prize and remember what the apostle Paul wrote, "Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Many blessings this week!