The Ending Is Sure

“These words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 22:6 NIV

My friend George Caylor and his wife, JoAnne, once met the late actor Charlton Heston when he visited Lynchburg, Va., where they live. Now George is not one to pass up an opportunity to meet someone like Heston, whose career included lead roles in such movies as The Ten Commandments, El Cid, and Ben Hur, for which he won an Academy Award in 1959.

Heston regaled them with the story of filming the famous chariot race in Ben Hur. Refusing to use a double for the scene, the actor had practiced for months. He was trying desperately to win the race when Director William Wyler drew him aside.

“Chuck,” he said, “the plot has been written! You win! Just stay on the chariot!”

What a reminder for believers!

We, too, often feel as though we’re running a desperate race—and losing.

Jostled about, thrown from one side to the other, bouncing every which way, we try to stay on our feet and maintain control. We take our eyes off the finish line to see what the enemy is up to.

And we do have an enemy—an unseen adversary who does whatever he can to trip us up, sidetrack us, get us to doubt our faith. If we abandon that faith, he’s won.

Have no doubt: This enemy is real, and he means business.

“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood,” Paul wrote the Ephesian believers, “but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world” (Ephesians 6:12 LB).

Indeed, our adversary prowls around like an insatiable lion, looking for his next meal (1 Peter 5:8). One of his favorite strategies is to get you to take your eyes off the finish line and look in the rearview mirror—at your past. Your sin. Your guilt. Your shame. “How could God ever forgive me for what I’ve done?” you wonder.

Don’t fall for that trick. Your sin, guilt, and shame have been washed away forever by the blood of Jesus. As the saying goes, “When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

The race may be fierce, but the outcome is certain: You win; the devil loses (Revelation 20:10). If you’re a believer in Jesus (see 1 John 5:1112), your victory was sealed over 2,000 years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem by none other than God’s own Son.

So if you’re being tossed about in this race called life and it seems as though you’re losing, remember: The plot has already been written! The ending is sure! You win!

All you have to do is stay on the chariot.

When doubt steps up in my life chariot and I try to take over the reins, remind me, Lord, that You are in control. My victory is certain, for You won it for me on Calvary. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on the finish line. Amen.

Read and reflect: Revelation 19­­–22

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God  ©2017

My Little Flock

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. — 1 Corinthians 12:26 NLT

I call them “my little flock.” 

They are a small group of believers, numbering at most twenty-five, who comprise a local congregation who look to me as their pastor.

I said I wasn’t. “I’m a Christian speaker and writer,” I insisted. 

My qualifications do not include training in ministry. I’m not ordained, not certified as a lay speaker or lay minister.

I just love them.

And I love delving into Scripture, preparing a message for Sunday’s sermon, and then delivering it to them. I so want to see them grow in their faith—to increasingly know, love, and serve the God I know, love, and serve (2 Peter 3:18). I want to help them not only grow, but also experience the joy of their faith (Philippians 1:25 NLT). 

My husband, who sits in the back pew, times my sermons and waves his cell phone when it’s time to begin winding down, told me I’m a pulpit pounder. I didn’t believe him until one Sunday I found myself pounding the pulpit. 

I was first called to fill their pulpit ten years ago when they’d begun to search for a fulltime pastor. The quest took a year and a half, during which time I fell in love with them. Then, after another year and a half, I was called again to fill the pulpit when they lost their pastor. After all, how can a church of twenty-five faithful members support a fulltime pastor with benefits?

So I said yes, I’ll prepare weekly worship services, “but I’m not a pastor.”

I look out over the congregation on Sunday mornings, and I see my little, hurting flock. Some have undergone recent cataract and back surgery. Some are waiting for surgery or treatment. One dear lady was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, another woman deals with her ailments day-by-day, moment by moment. There isn’t much doctors can do about her condition. Still others grapple with long-term illnesses and caregiving. 

And then there’s grief.  I conducted my second funeral service in as many months that first year. 

I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect the sorrow I felt.

I thought all I had to do was prepare Sunday services and occasionally make hospital visits. I didn’t expect all they are dealing with. I feel overwhelmed at times by their pain, and I don’t know how to ease it.

Except love them. And pray for them.

Perhaps the life-pain was there before, and I just didn’t see it. 

Maybe as my heart has opened more and more, so have my eyes. 

For when they hurt, I hurt.

They are my little flock, and I love them.

And maybe that’s what being a pastor is all about.

Dear God, I feel so inadequate to shepherd these wonderful people, to apply Your salve to their life-wounds. Remind me to empty myself of me and to let You minister to them through me. Remind me You are the balm to their pain, and You are the light in the darkness of difficult times, Your promises are what give hope when the situation seems hopeless. Remind me You are their true Shepherd. Shepherd them through me. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 12:12–27.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.