EARTHLY OR ETERNAL REWARDS
Who out there has heard of or experienced a mid-life crisis?
Questioning the meaning of life.
Questioning the wisdom of the choices you’ve devoted decades to fulfilling.
Questioning why nothing you’ve achieved makes it worth getting out of bed.
Questioning your sense of self and purpose.
Like many, King Soloman questioned the importance of his work— career.
I hated all my work that I labored at under the sun because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. Who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet, he will take over all my work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile.
So I began to give myself over to despair concerning all my work that I had labored at under the sun. When there is a man whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it. This too is futile and a great wrong. For what does a man get with all his work and all his efforts that he labors at under the sun? For all his days are filled with grief, and his occupation is sorrowful. Even at night, his mind does not rest. This too is futile.
There is nothing better for man than to eat, drink and enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand because who can eat, and who can enjoy life apart from Him? For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge and joy, but to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:18-26
So many today are hopeless and desperate. To the outside world they appear to have it altogether. In reality a slow, agonizing death haunts their daily existence.
I like many of you were once counted among the terminal. Regardless of what I did, or how hard I tried. Nothing could quiet the emptiness shouting its name. Nothing that is until I had an up close and personal encounter with Papa.
In June of 2000, my husband and I were visiting our oldest daughter in Houston, Texas. She shared with us how the church she was attending was changing her life. Begging us to go to church with her, I reluctantly agreed.
As I walked through the doors love overwhelmed my heart. My heavenly Papa was there with outstretched arms. Lovingly welcoming His prodigal child home.
On that hot, summer day I had an unforgettable encounter with Papa. His presence captivated me. Touching the innermost parts of my being. Gently reassuring me I was safe and loved unconditionally.
Today my heart grieves for anyone who has never experienced the exquisite love that is Jesus.
Unquenchable love. Making a lifelong pursuit of Him irresistible.
Tender love. Healing the scars incurred on the battlefields in the war for my soul.
Empowering love. Gracing me to forgive those individuals who carved those scars on my soul, including me.
Encouraging love. Declaring my best days are yet to come.
Since that summer day my life has dramatically changed. My husband is no longer here to witness my personal transformation. He is with Christ experiencing first hand the majesty of Papa’s love.
As for me, I’ve learned to dance to a different drummer— to march down the road less traveled.
Refusing to be imprisoned by the narrow mindedness of political correctness and religious dogma.
Pursuing the dreams I long kept buried.
Thinking less of the distant future and more about living each day with intentionality. Knowing that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow.
None of this is possible without faith fueled by Papa’s truth.
Truth that declares Papa is a…
God of excellence, not satisfied with the status quo. He is the Rock. His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong. How just and upright He is! Deuteronomy 32:4
God of relationships, family. When the right time arrived. God sent His Son into this world. Born of a woman. Subject to the law.
To free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately, He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters.
Because you are now part of God’s family. He sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, and the Spirit calls out, “Abba, Father.”
You no longer have to live as a slave because you are a child of God. Since you are His child, God guarantees an inheritance is waiting for you. Galatians 4:4-7
God of holiness, discipling His children for their own good. You must submit to correction for the purpose of discipline. God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Now if you are exempt from correction and without discipline, in which all of God’s children share, then you are illegitimate children and not sons at all.
Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we submitted and respected them for training us. Shall we not much more willingly submit to the Father of spirits and live by learning from His discipline? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for only a short time as seemed best to them. But He disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness.
For the time being no discipline brings joy but seems sad and painful. Yet, to those who have been trained by it. Afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness— right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose. Hebrews 12:7-11
God of trustworthiness, infallible and eternal. This is He who came through water and blood (His baptism and death), Jesus Christ— not by the water only but by the water and the blood. It is the Holy Spirit who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. He is the essence and origin of truth itself. For there are three witnesses— the Spirit and the water and the blood. These three are in agreement. Their testimony is perfectly consistent.
If we accept, as we do, the testimony of men. That is, if we are willing to take the sworn statements of fallible humans as evidence, the testimony of God is greater, far more authoritative.
For this is the testimony of God, that He has testified regarding His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God. Who adheres to, trusts in and relies confidently on Him as Savior has the testimony within himself. He can speak authoritatively about Christ from his own personal experience. The one who does not believe God in this way has made Him out to be a liar because he has not believed in the evidence that God has given regarding His Son.
The testimony is this. God has given us eternal life. We already possess it. This life is in His Son, resulting in our spiritual completeness and eternal companionship with Him. He who has the Son, by accepting Him as Lord and Savior, has the life that is eternal. He who does not have the Son of God by personal faith does not have the life. 1 John 5:6-12
God of repentance, demanding His children become like His son, Jesus. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. For through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see, and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the Church which is His body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything.
For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence. You are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.
You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. Colossians 1:15-23
I believe Jesus is the greatest love story ever told! A story created by the Papa of all papas. Pursuing wayward children. Welcoming them with outstretched arms when they return home.
This former prodigal has never looked backed since that day she returned home. It was Papa’s incomparable treasure— Jesus that began my transformational journey.
It is my prayer that if you are a prodigal. Return home! Receive Jesus. A treasure that is precious and worthy of your pursuit.