I was at a family reunion in my hometown this weekend. I noticed a woman who looked very much like someone I went to high school with. I despise awkward moments so I began plotting ways to discover her identity without embarrassing myself. Before I could execute any of my plans, she saw me and said, “Crystal?”
Aha! I was right, but what was she doing there? Had she married into the family? Maybe she was there with a friend? We got caught up a little before I had the guts to ask her how in the world she was connected. It turns out that her dad is my uncle’s first cousin. We had been shirt-tail relatives all those years in high school and never even knew it!
As I reflected on this later, my thoughts turned to heaven. How many unexpected connections will I discover there? I anticipate learning details of my own story that I am ignorant of now. I want to meet the people who prayed for my Dad over the years. They are part of the reason he surrendered his life to Jesus and won a long battle with alcoholism. In response to my Dad’s changed life and his sincere pleas, I reluctantly attended a small country church. It was there that I opened my heart to God and He very personally and dramatically revealed Himself to me.
Individuals in that church invested in me and helped me lay a solid, Biblical foundation to build my faith on. But who touched and shaped their lives? And who, in turn, influenced the lives of those people? The story is a big, beautiful tapestry, displaying the love of God and the far reaching power of a life that is yielded to Him.
In heaven, I look forward to meeting and thanking the ones who gave, loved, taught, and obeyed so that I could be there. Together with them, I will enjoy the perfect love of God and the delights of heaven for all eternity. I can’t help but think that might be one of the sweetest pleasures of heaven—to share it with people that we helped get there.
I want my life to be about those kind of connections. I want to be surprised in heaven by conversations with people whose lives were changed because I loved God and obeyed Him. Now, I know that apart from the power of God, all of our efforts are in vain; salvation comes only from Him. Still, the word of God couldn’t be more clear—much depends upon our faithfulness and obedience. What an honor and privilege—to be called on to share in God’s work and the passion of His heart!
Paul tells the Corinthian believers to live their lives with purpose, like athletes competing in the games.
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)
What is this crown? The answer may be found in Paul’s words of affection to the believers at Philippi, a church founded through his ministry and led by people he had personally discipled.
1 Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! Philippians 4:1 (NIV)
Who will be my joy and my crown?