On any given Saturday, chances are good that I’ll be paying a visit to the local hardware store for the odds and ends that need to be done around the house. When I go, I’ll typically bring one or more of my boys with me, just to make the most of our time. And so, one by one, I’ll ask them, “Would you like to come to the store with me” until I have enough volunteers, and away we go.
Now, as a father, I’d like to say that on asking the question, each one immediately agrees with great excitement, as if I asked, “Would you like to come skiing with me?” or, “Would you like to go grab some buffalo wings?” But I almost never get this kind of response. Rather, I see gears turning in my boys’ heads as each one calculates whether it will be better to go with dad or stay and continue doing what they were doing. And thankfully, after such careful analysis, I’m glad to see that dad still comes out on top sometimes. But as gratifying as that is, I’ll admit that my pride still takes a hit when their responses are less than spontaneous.
As I’ve often discovered in the course of daily life, vignettes like these are very instructive in my walk with the Lord. Life has no shortage of forks in the road, and as I encounter them, it’s not uncommon for me to intuitively know which choices will please my Father. Ignorance is not the problem! Instead, I deliberate whether the path known to please Him will be worth it, or in other words, whether the path that’s pleasing to Him will also be pleasing to me. Should I follow where the Shepherd leads, or does this sheep know better than He where the best pastures lie? Do I have faith in Him, or do I have faith in myself?
There’s a certain amount of comfort—perhaps misplaced—in knowing that I’m not the only one prone to this hesitation. In fact, the book of Hebrews was written to a body of Jewish Christians who, through similar arithmetic, were in danger of making a grave miscalculation. Though many of them heard the gospel and received it with great joy, the stiff persecution that ensued caused them to question whether identifying with the Messiah was worth it. It is to this crisis of faith that the author addresses his encouragement:
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Perhaps like the believers who first heard this passage, I can’t recall a time where I’ve ever doubted that God exists. Even as an unbeliever, I’ve always known His being to be true. But as this passage and as James 2:19 both point out, believing this is not enough. Where I regularly fall short is the conviction that God is generous in His reward—so generous that any amount of inconvenience, displeasure, or suffering endured while seeking Him must be considered inconsequential, like the dust on a scale for eighteen-wheelers. The fact that the gears in my head make a full revolution at each crossroad speaks to how much stock I place in that dust!
When the inevitable choices come, may I always believe that the reward in seeking His fellowship, His will, His kingdom, and His glory is guaranteed, and it is magnificent.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. (Luke 6:21–23)