When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:54-58
I’ll never forget when my sons stopped asking, “Are we there yet?” on road trips. Around ages three and five, we were driving to visit my wife’s parents. The variations of “How much further?” kept rolling in as we rolled along. I ignored it for as long as I could. Then, in a flash of parenting genius, an idea hit me.
We stopped, and I handed each of my kids five pennies with simple instructions: “Hold on to these until we get to Nana and Papa’s house. You can keep them, but you need to give me one coin back every time you ask, ‘Are we there yet?’” Problem solved. They clenched their penny-filled fists the rest of the way and each trip after for years. (Eventually, they figured out the value of a dollar, but that’s a story for another time.)
As a follower of Jesus, a recipient of God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life, I still too easily forget that heaven is on the horizon. Whether I realize it or not, what I’m holding onto on this “When will we get there? Will Christ ever come back?” spiritual journey is worth way more than a handful of pennies. The Apostle Paul acted like a heavenly eternity with God might happen at any moment, but it’s been two millennia, and we’re still earthbound.
I know I’m not alone in forgetting the true value of salvation. It’s beyond me to appraise what a pass to enter the Lord’s kingdom cost Him, nor what it should mean to me both today and forever. And so, instead of asking, “Are we there yet?” as I follow Jesus, I need a reminder to hold on to.
For my road-tripping sons, clutching pennies wasn’t the point, and it wasn’t in vain. It was an opportunity to grow in patience and self-control, and other Fruit of the Spirit. For you and me, we have no idea how long until Christ comes back, and there’s so much to be done in the here and now for His sake. Standing firm, being immovable, and always giving ourselves fully to the Lord’s work may feel impossible, even insignificant day in and day out.
Just remember: our role isn’t to weigh the worth of what we do on God’s behalf today or in the end. Our charge is to be faithful, to sacrifice and to serve with gratitude for as long as this adventure with God takes. Our godly toil is not in vain, no matter how long this side of eternity takes.
Better than keeping pennies in your pocket to pass the time waiting for Jesus’ return, serving is a life-changing way to honor God and restore this world with His blessing. Visit willowcreek.org/serve and step into an opportunity today.