Well Done

I’ve been thinking lately about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, specifically verse 21 where the master says to the slave, “Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into the joy of your master.”

Most of us who have been believers for awhile long to hear Jesus speak those words to us:  “Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into the joy of your Master.”  Although there are no tears in heaven, I have trouble imagining hearing those words and not welling up.  To know that He sees us, and that our actions have influenced eternity and brought pleasure to Him … is there anything more satisfying?

But I’m rethinking that scene in heaven just a bit.  Oh, I still believe that God wants us to be good stewards of what He’s given us, and I believe that He will reward those who follow Him faithfully.  But I’ve also been thinking about the reality of heaven.  And I wonder …

… when my eyes are open to see an explosion of colors that I had never imagined before, and I am in view of the throne that is surrounded by a rainbow like an emerald in appearance, and I am faced with creatures unlike any I ever encountered on earth, and

… when the silence of death gives way to the sounds and peals of thunder at the throne of God, and I hear elders, living creatures, and myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands of angels saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing,” and

… when I see that the response of all who have been in the presence of the Mighty One before me is to fall on their faces in extravagant and passionate worship, and

… when my mind is opened to understand life’s mysteries, and I see how many times I was protected from calamity, how my “good days” were divine shielding from the raging forces of hell, how what I thought were unanswered prayers were actually the most merciful blessings of God, and how God intricately wove His plan for my life among the threads of billions of others whom He loved uniquely and fervently, and

… when my heart feels it will burst with gratitude, awe, and wonder because of the selfless love of the One who rescued me so that I could have eternal life,

I wonder,

… what will I say?

… will I be waiting for words of affirmation from my Master?

I think it is possible, instead, that I will follow the example of the elders, the creatures, and the myriads of myriads of people, and I will fall on my face.  And when I see the intricacies of His plan, after I have shouted “Holy!” and “Worthy!”, perhaps I will look at my Savior, as wondrous praise erupts from my heart, and say,

 

… “Well done, Jesus!  Well done, You faithful servant of the Most High God!”

 

And I will gladly take my place among the heavenly throng and offer Father, Son, and Holy Spirit my wholehearted devotion for all eternity.

 

“He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” – Mark 7:37

 

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One Word

“What’s your word for the year?”  I have a number of friends who, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, faithfully choose one word to characterize their year.   Perhaps the word is something true about them that they want to be reminded of, like “chosen” or “clean”.  Maybe the word is an area they would like to grow in, such as “forgiveness” or “dependability”.   As they go through the year they can see God do work in their lives in that specific area.

I’ve never done this.

I’m not against the idea.  I believe it’s a worthy pursuit.  I just have never had a word captivate me enough to want to focus on it for the whole year.  It could be because I see so many areas of my life that require growth and attention that I can’t narrow it down to one.  Or it could be that I know myself well enough to know that the thing that seems pressing in early January may be long forgotten by May.  Regardless, I’ve never felt compelled to join in the exercise.

Until now.

I was recently reading an article by Ann Voskamp that caught my attention.  (It was reposted by my friend Pamela Haddix on her blog Worship and the Word which you should definitely check out!)  Ann brilliantly presented a word that was so compelling that I am inclined to make it my word for the year.

  • … it’s a word that captivates my attention like no other
  • … it’s a word that reminds me who I am and where I stand in this world
  • … it’s a word that brings attention to where my priorities are and where they should be
  • … it’s a word that causes the chaos in my life to hush
  • … it’s a word that commands attention where it is due
  • … it’s a word that silences storms and moves mountains
  • … it’s a word that makes demons tremble and sends them cowering

I’m not sure how I’ll do having a “word for the year”.  But anything that will keep me coming back to the name of Jesus has got to be worth trying.

The Power Source

I’ve often heard people explain the concept of “abiding in Christ” using the illustration of a television plugged into an outlet. On its own, the TV has no source of power; no amount of self-effort will make it function. In order for it to work, the TV has to be plugged in. But as soon as the plug reaches the outlet, power is readily available. The TV instantly has what it needs to perform the function for which it was designed.

There is a lot of truth in that picture when we think about living the Christian life. When we try to fulfill the purposes for which we were created by relying on our own strength, we never succeed. We need to be “plugged in” to Christ, allowing Him to be our source of power.

But there’s a related phenomenon that I’ve often observed. When I had an old analog TV and I would turn it on, it took a little while to warm up. I remember seeing a horizontal flash of light and watching the dark gray screen as it got a little brighter, a little brighter, and then display a blurry picture. Eventually as I continued to watch the picture came into clearer focus. (A similar thing happens with digital TVs as well, but instead of a blurry picture we might get a black screen for awhile, or even a signal check that runs through all the channels trying to find which ones can be used.)

What would happen if, while the television was warming up, I unplugged it? I’d get the dark screen again. And if I then plugged it back in? It would start the process of warming up over again. And if I kept unplugging the set during the warm up time and plugging it back in after, I would get to a point where I would never actually see the picture, but just see the dark screen and maybe an occasional flash of light. The television is connected to the power source but doesn’t appear to be working because it takes some time for it to respond and bring the picture into focus.

Have you ever experienced a cycle like that? Sin – repent – sin – repent – plug in – unplug – plug in – unplug… and the struggle continues and the picture never seems to come into focus?  It can be easy to think, “I kept turning to God every time I fell … but it didn’t work,” assuming that because we haven’t yet changed, His help must not be available. But the reality is that the power is there.  When Jesus paid the price for our sins, it worked.  Sometimes it just takes us awhile to respond to the power that is available to us.