“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”- Hebrews 11:6
When I was about twelve years old I took part in a door to door campaign to raise money in conjunction with the annual telethon put on by Jerry Lewis for the fight against Muscular Dystrophy. I wish I could tell you that my intentions were purely that of being a “Good Samaritan”, but my eyes were on a different prize. It came in the form of a brand-new BMX bicycle. The student who raised the highest amount would be in the running for this treasure on two wheels. Well, I was more than motivated as I went throughout all my neighborhood knocking on doors, giving an impassioned plea, and even reverting to puppy dog eyes to seal the deal. After two weeks of canvassing what seemed to be all of Canoga Park, I was stunned to learn that I had earned the most money in our region! I went to the collection center ready and set to ride off into glory (figuratively and literally).
As I came to collect my reward, my bubble of a BMX dream was about to be burst big time. Despite being the number one earner, my total dollar amount failed to reach the points needed to earn the bike (darn you small print!) Instead, I was handed the next level prize of a video game system. As cool as it is for any teenage boy to have the latest gaming unit, it simply did not compare to the bike I wanted and cherished. Have you ever found that to be true about redeeming a reward or points in our world today? You spend multiple hundreds of dollars on a credit card over an entire year and you earn the equivalent to a one-night stay in a hotel. You purchase nine sandwiches at a local sub shop, and the tenth one is free. You collect bottles and cans for three months, wait in line an hour at the recycle center and walk away with about $15-$30…that won’t even cover a fast-food meal for my family!
Aren’t you glad that when it comes to the Lord’s economy He exceeds our biggest dreams and desires? The Bible speaks to the way the Lord lavishes His goodness, His mercies, and His promises on those who seek and follow after Him.
Ephesians 2:6-7- “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
2 Peter 1:3- “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us.”
1 Timothy 6:17- “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
By the end of the summer I had received a reward that exceeded my every expectation of what the sabbatical would produce in my life. God’s reward points to me went beyond the much-needed refreshing I received from the weeks away from the pastoral duties I carry out. It was even of greater substance than the solid results at church (high attendance and giving) that we learned of upon our return. The Lord’s reward came in the form of two messages that moved my heart from a place of dread and doubt, to a place of peace and confidence. The first came on a weekend getaway with Joanie for our anniversary. On the first night of our trip we got a text from the boys that our daughter was crying uncontrollably due to missing us. We decided to call and the entire time I kept assuring her that everything was “okay” and that we would be “home soon”. Within five minutes of that call we got another text message that she had calmed down and fallen asleep peacefully. At that very moment the Holy Spirit took the words of comfort and reassurance I spoke over my princess and echoed them to me. Almost immediately, I realized an area in my life where I was doing some serious fretting over. The Lord spoke to my heart peace, comfort, and assurance to my worries and tears.
The second message came on the last Sunday of our sabbatical. The Lord used a drive on the 405 and a bumper sticker to remove a burden I had been buried by for months. During that evening drive, I was wrestling over an area that was sucking joy and hope out of me quicker than a balloon with a hole in it. As I was reflecting on how I was feeling and offering some silent prayers in my mind, a car drove by with a bumper sticker/decal I had never seen before. It simply said, “ENJOY THIS LIFE.” All at once I felt presence of the Lord and a profound deposit of His love, peace, and hope filling me up. God is so good to meet us with a message that moves us into a new season of life and a new dimension of faith! Because of this late-summer reward I can say that I am living out the eternal truth spoken of in Proverbs 1:33, “But whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease without fear of harm.”
May the Lord speak to your heart the very messages needed in your marriage, your family, your body, your career, your finances, and your struggle to release rewards from heaven that never fail or spoil.