Keep Your Gold Watch

On the way home from school this morning, my local Christian radio DJ told a story that I’m going to shamelessly borrow, because the picture he painted with it (though sound-byte brief) was great. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First let me tell you that it has been my very great privilege over the past couple of weeks to reconnect with an old friend. I have been dumbfounded by the way God has orchestrated this reunion at the perfect time, and how He has drawn my friend toward Him, and how He positioned me – the worst of sinners – to be able to speak a word of encouragement to her, to tell her about God’s promises and the wonder of walking with Him.

As my friend and I have conversed, one of my main concerns has been to paint a realistic picture of what it means to give your life to Christ. I don’t want it to be a deceptively rosy picture of ease and comfort that would be contrary to the Word. There is a violence in our salvation that can not be denied. To pick up your cross and follow Him is no small thing - enter my DJ’s story.

The DJ on my radio told a story of how he had been in a doctor’s office waiting room with an older man, who had served in the Navy for 20 years (hats off!). The man confessed to the DJ that he didn’t really like his time in the service, but nudging the DJ with his elbow he said with a grin, “But the retirement is great."

It is, isn’t it? For us I mean. Just as this man didn’t always like the work he did defending what he believed in, we don’t always enjoy what is required of us in order to bear the name “little Christ." God never promised that it would be easy or that we would always like the path He leads us down, but the retirement is beyond description.

Consider these Biblical contrasts:

John 16:33 says: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Matthew 5:11-12 says: "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 19:29 says: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

Those are just a few. And then consider these nuggets:

Revelation 20:11: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.”

Revelation 21:1- 4: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'"

Revelation 21:23-25: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”

As I talk with my friend about what it means to surrender to God, these are the things I want her to know. It’s a long hard walk in the mud up to your ankles, but the rewards are so much more than your service can earn. There are days when you’ll wonder what exactly you signed up for (and if you don’t have those days you might want to check your walk to see if it has wandered).

Some days feel like you’re in boot camp with no end in sight. It takes all your effort to maintain the posture, to run the next mile, to slug through the slough, to not just lie down and give up. On those days you can remember our soldier friend and what he discovered about his retirement package - and then remember your own. No more death. No more crying, no reason to. A hundred times as much reward as what it cost us. God with us – Emmanuel – in the flesh. Light, glorious light, and no more darkness.

So, I’ve gotten preachy as I tend to do when the promises of scripture take over. One more thought. What was the last great hurt you felt? When were you recently disappointed? Did your bones ache when you got up this morning? Do the mundane tasks of your day seem pointless or beyond your ability to manage? Are you feeling unloved, unappreciated, unworthy, useless? The promises of God tell you that it will all be over soon and what you have waiting on the other side of this life is the antithesis to all that in a degree that can’t be measured. That’s enough for me to take one more step and shout ‘oorah’!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 1 Peter 1:3-6

“For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay.” Hebrews 10:37

Hallelujah! Keep your gold watch; I have a better retirement package!

(Dedicated to the memory of all our ‘retired’ heroes who paid the ultimate price for our lives and way of life.)