The mind-set all around us is relentlessly focused on the here and now. Are we happy right now? Are we comfortable right now? Are things going our way right this minute? If not, let’s quit what we’re doing and find something that feels better. This mind set is in my observation, the number one reason for bad choices that don’t result in the happiness so desperately sought, but just the opposite, it results in failure, irresponsible behavior, growing unhappiness, depression, and misery. The character trait of endurance is the ability to remain faithful, responsible, and positive in spite of bad times, knowing that things will change for us as God guides and blesses, because of our endurance.
When I was in the 6th grade, I had a life defining and value shaping experience. It was in health class, taught by the same man who taught PE, and he also was the track coach, I don’t remember his name. He had a Snickers candy bar, my favorite, and a $10 bill in his hand. He said, “I can give you the Snickers now or the $10 bill in one month”, “which one will you choose”? Back when I was in the 6th grade I could buy a Snickers for 5 cents, so the choice was one Snickers now or 20 in one month. He then went on to say, “A little kid will take the Snickers every time because they can’t “see” a month away”. He went on to say, “At some point in their growing up they will be able to see that far, and then they will make the wise choice, that is called ‘Maturity’, but the sad thing is many never grow up and become mature, and they keep living for the now instead of the future, and keep making low value and unwise choices in life”. As my PE teacher taught this lesson to a room of a dozen 12 year old boys I clearly remember thinking to myself and making a personal resolve, that I wouldn’t think, act, and choose like a kid, I would “delay gratification” for the wise choice, the choice with true and lasting value. I made that resolve the best a young boy can, but I have remade that same commitment over and over again in my 58 years of living since that time. That lesson pops into my head regularly as I choose whether I am going to read my Bible now or tomorrow, give money to God or spend it on myself, and this principle is very powerful in maintaining moral purity, so many choices seem nice now, but they have a huge price tag in the future. The problem is many can’t “see” that far.
I talk and teach a lot about the “Judgment Seat of Christ”, that event that occurs at the end of our life when we enter heaven and stand before Jesus and are rewarded for the works we have done in this life. These rewards are significant and eternal, their value is 100 fold greater than any reward on earth. As I teach this truth to a room of people, I often think, there are many hearing this who can’t “see” that far, it doesn’t compute, they will continue to make choices based on the “now” instead of the “then”. Thank You, Lord, for a PE teacher that You used in my life, so that I can now “see”.
We all took tests in school. We take driving tests, medical tests, tests at work, and on the last list goes. Sometimes we do well on the tests, and sometimes we flunk them. In Revelation 2:10 it says that the devil tests us, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” It is really God who is doing the testing, but He is using the devil to do it. The testing involves suffering, and to pass the test is to be unafraid and faithful to the end. The word faithful in this context would have some synonyms such as “strong”; be strong until the end, also “endurance”, endure to the end. Why? What motivation is there to be faithful, be strong, and endure to the end? The “Crown of life”, God says that if we are faithful until the end He will give us the “crown of life”, that sounds like a time of great honor and glory to be received right from Almighty God.
While fishing for Sockeye salmon in Soldotna, Alaska last night I snagged up on a rock and broke off all my fishing tackle, so I had to rerig. This is a regular occurrence when fishing in a river using lead in order to fish the bottom of the river where the fish are. When I had finished rerigging I noticed I had forgotten to put the fishing line through the little hole in my level wind reel, so I cut it off and rerigged again. This time I noticed I had not put the line through several of the Ferrell’s on my rod, so I cut it off and rerigged once more. Those kinds of mistakes happen in life, where we say or do something in the business of life that is dumb, bad, hurtful, and sometimes costly. We didn’t premeditate the act, word, or decision, it just sort of happened. It would be so nice to eliminate those blunders of life from our life, and one of my strategies for doing so is to memorize and meditate on and pray the words of Psalms 19:12-14, “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”