Living With the End in Mind
I have a question for you. Have you ever experienced the heartache of leaving a crying preschooler at drop off? Have you encouraged a fearful kindergartener with thumbs-ups and a big smile? Have you driven away praying that they would make it through the day? Well, if you have been there, I feel your pain. Being a mama is hard stuff!
Every morning for the past week, I put a sad and scared almost first-grader on a school bus to go to all day summer camp. It was a rough week for my little guy and I think his reaction to the whole “going on the bus to camp” surprised him and certainly surprised me. You see, my son was so excited to go to this camp; he was going with a great group of friends and his sister and so many supportive students from his elementary school.
That said, on the first day of day camp, fear hit Dan hard. He was so distraught; I had to go onto the bus to console him. He was torn. He wanted to go, but he wanted me. His fear and worry grew stronger as we had to wait for the bus to fire up its engine and leave. The long torturous ten minutes before the bus started up for departure was brutal for him. There was fear and a lot of tears. Finally, when the bus ignited its engine, I leaned down and whispered in his ear,
“Danny, you are strong and courageous and I know you can do this. The Lord is with you. AND if you get through the whole week on the bus you can work towards the super hero Lego”.
Just then, a little spark lit up in him and he looked at me with a tear in his eye which turned to a small glimmer and then through a half smile, he said,
“Really, I can get that Lego?”
“Yes, my little man, if you push through this you can work for that Lego.”
A small nod and smile was my signal to get off the bus and let them start their journey to camp.
After Dan’s first day he knew he LOVED the camp. He LOVED going. He got to spend all day with friends swimming, canoeing, going on nature walks, learning about God, singing songs, getting dirty, climbing in a treehouse, and so much more. But those 10 minutes…every morning, for the whole week as we got to the school bus, he would begin to get scared. As he told the counselor his name to board the bus true fear plagued him. But he got on. He waited, sometimes with tears, for that bus to leave. It was hard, he struggled, there was fear and frustration but he did it, he stayed on and each morning as the bus pulled away, I knew it was a small victory for him.
Dan won a Lego this week but it was not easy. Each morning as we pulled up to the church and saw the bus, he would be struck with worry. We would talk about the prize. I would ask him what super heroes were in the set and how long he thought it would take him to build it. And as he focused on the prize, he slowly, still with fear, climbed the stairs and found his seat on the school bus.
Just like Dan focused on his Lego as he boarded the bus, when we struggle with life, with something that is hard, or hurts, or is scary, it’s helpful to focus on the prize. To think about the finish line. For believers there is a prize! 1 Corinthians 9:25 reminds us: “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” This week Dan was disciplined. He worked through fear and worry and stayed on the bus; but, his prize of Legos will surely fade. As believers, we train and endure for the eternal prize of one day standing in front of our Lord and savior. Envision that eternal prize. Focus on the Prince of Peace, the God of Heaven and Earth, the Father, the Healer, the Great I Am. When we remember what we are working for and towards… it makes the rough times a bit easier to endure. Focus on the prize! As believers in Jesus Christ, it’s not about Legos. My pastor, Jim Andrews always reminds us: “In the end we WIN and we WIN BIG”! Life is a race, Christ is the finish line. Let’s live with the end in mind For the Joy of It!
Lord, help me to be strong and courageous. Life and circumstances can be challenging and hard. There is often fear and worry and doubt. God, help me to see the eternal prize. Fill me with the assurance of what’s to come. I believe your Word and your promise that you do not leave me or forsake me. I know that you will work all things together for my good and your glory. God, help me to live with the end in mind. Keep my eyes fixed on you. Surround me with others to run this race called life with — You are the finish line and I race for you… for the Joy of It!