Life is hard. It just plain is. Regardless of financial or social status. Regardless of support system or lack thereof. Even regardless of faith and hope for the future. The fact is that we live in a world with imperfect people who make imperfect choices who don’t always (or even often?) consider how their actions or reactions affect or impact other people.
Jesus knew that this was so. In fact, He promised that it would be so. He said, “…In this world, you will have trouble. But…” – are you ready for the good news?!- He also said, “…take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
If you’re living on planet earth, chances are that you will be disenchanted by the whole existing thing at some point. A work situation or colleague will frustrate you. A family member will disappoint you. A friend will hurt you. These things don’t magically go away when you are a believer in Jesus – not at all a reason to “sign on” to the whole salvation deal.
Here’s what I think: when we encounter a less than perfect (in our tiny little human minds) situation and we just want to get to the other side of it (financial stress, relationship tension, health concerns, etc.) God is not so concerned about the end result – or endgame (He’s got that part) as the choices we make and the behavior we exhibit to get there. You see He knows the end. He wrote the end. He’s the God of the end.
But what are we doing day-to-day, circumstance to circumstance, relationship to relationship to bring it all to pass? How are we stewarding each and every interaction and doing our very best to respond and interact as Jesus would?
Let me give you a very real world example. I work for a Christian ministry. The mission that drives all that we do is literally to get the Bible to every human on earth in the language that they pray and dream in. I cannot believe that God does not “get behind” that. It’s HIS Word! His message to a hurting world. His story of hope and reconciliation. His history and plan for the future!
So, there’s that.
But there’s also the fact that this God WROTE the story. He knows the end. And not only did He write it but He is ultimately the One to make it come to pass – in His way and in His time. The somewhat difficult thing to wrap our tiny brains around is that for some reason He has given us a part to play in that. He makes it very clear that until Jesus returns, we are His representatives on planet earth (Matthew 13-14). We are His plan to bring our fellow life sojourners to Him. So every once in a while (ok, pretty much daily – and sometimes hour by hour!) we need to check ourselves and ask how we’re doing.
In my work example: we’re a non-profit. Funds don’t always come in in the timing and in the way that we would like or might expect. Yet we know two things: 1) God has no lack. Every resource is available to Him and 2) He wants people to know Him and He inspired His Holy Word to help in that. Given this, it makes me think that He might just be more concerned with how we are handling the day-to-day to get to that endpoint. How are we caring for and working to understand our ministry partners? How are we ministering to and praying for our supporters? How are we helping to meet all kinds of everyday life needs for our co-workers? How am I doing my best to die to myself and work toward His highest command: to love Him and love my neighbor? (Matthew 22: 37-39)
I know that we will never reach perfection in that. But I think it is incumbent on us to try. When I stand before the Lord to give an account of my life (and we all will), I imagine Him walking me through situations that unfolded during my short time on earth and asking, “how do you think you did there, Michelle?” Even though I fail daily, I want to keep trying to respond the way that Jesus would.
He got thirty-some years to walk the earth and set an example for us. We are nearing Christmas – the celebration of His coming to earth as a baby. It blows my mind to think that He only did that so that He could ultimately die for us to make us right with God. That was His endgame. He didn’t have to think about it. He just knew it. So, what did He do in the meantime? How did He walk through life interacting with people and responding to circumstances? How did each of those responses impact other people?
We may not have control over the endgame but we do over the plays in getting there. Makes me think that we should make them count.
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.