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Its Own Reward

 
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Listening to a Christian CD the other night, memories of Romania came rushing back to me.  The street cars, the people, the Carpathian mountains out our living room window… Whoosh!, they came in, so unexpected, so uninvited…

Though we certainly know there were hard times during our time there, we choose to remember the good times…  We remember the fun of making our border runs while choosing to forget that they were cold, bumpy, dangerous rides…  We remember the fun of going to the market while choosing to forget the pain of carrying five or six kilos (up to thirteen pounds) of bagged groceries home in our arms…  Gary remembers the joy of praying with and feeding "The Basement Couple," of witnessing to and seeing seeds planted in "The Theatre Woman," of praying for and seeing "The Cancer Woman's Husband" freed from the spirit of suicide…

These memories elicited for me a huge Pity Party. "Why, Lord, why?  We gave up all we had to follow you there!  We gave up homes and lands and family and jobs and position and authority…  We followed you to Romania, and continued giving our lives to you there…  Then You suddenly call us back out of Romania, and not only that, when we return, You do not reward our sacrifices with things upon our return.  We had to buy all new things upon our return…  Didn't you say that those who gave up lands and homes and family for Your sake would receive back a hundred fold?"  I was hurt that Father didn't seem to love me as much as He must love those other Christians who get those things replaced a hundred fold.  I was confused, dispirited, crushed.

Father took me to Jeremiah.  Jeremiah was a prophet for over 40 years.  At the beginning of his ministry, God told him not to marry, ever.  Jeremiah gave his life to God, and God told him that he would have to spend the rest of his days without companionship, without love.  He was alone.

Jeremiah was a very faithful, obedient servant of God.  When God said, "Speak this," he did.  For his obedience, Jeremiah was mocked, ridiculed and imprisoned, by kings and priests alike.  He was alone, and ridiculed.

Jeremiah often asked the Lord to release him from his calling, for he disliked being so morose and negative in his prophecies; however, he knew that he was only delivering the word that God was giving to him and he continued in his service.  He was alone, and ridiculed, and downcast at times.

To top it all off, after forty years of faithful service, Jeremiah was taken in to captivity along with the rest of Judah by the Babylonians.  He was alone, and ridiculed, and downcast, and forgotten.

Yet. (There is a yet to his life.) Yet his words of prophecy were so important to God that they were preserved over thousands of years for us to read today.  Yet his life is an example to us today of Christian service because his life tells us this thing: Obedience is its own reward.  His life reminds me that I obey Christ's commands to me because I love Him and I want to honor Him with my life.  I do not obey Him for rewards on this earth, or the chance to excel in this life.  I obey because to reject His desires for me would be like Jeremiah trying not to speak the words God gave to him, making " my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones."  I would become "weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot."  As Jeremiah balked, sometimes, at being obedient to God's will for Him, I, too, balk.  But like him, if I do not obey, it is as if there is fire in my bones.  Will I stop being obedient to Christ's commands for me just because I do not see the hundred fold reward?  No.  I will take comfort in His word to me that obedience is its own reward.

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This site was last updated 01/12/05