[Selfless pt. 2]
Pastor Jonathan O’Reilly
All of us are guilty of thinking in this “one day when _______, then ________” pattern. We are always looking for the one thing we’re missing. We are living with the idea that perfection is just around the corner, but in reality, the only thing around the corner is another corner. It is our selfishness that causes us to wish for this fast-forward. We are not willing to slow down and power through. We do not have patience to wait with the expectation that things will change in God’s time.
What if the work is the real reward?
What if the prize is in the process?
What if we could be grateful in every season?
Living selflessly is not easy. It is messy, and life is hard, and it’s difficult to stay focused. Paul is a really good example of how to be selfless, even when life is hard. This is a guy who was lost, in prison, ship-wrecked, bitten by snakes. Needless to say, he did not have it easy. But we never see him wishing for his fast-forward. Instead, we see him praising God fiercely in every season. He does not wait for calm and predictability to do what God is commanding of him. He does it when his ship is sinking, literally.
The enemy does not want us to realize the reward is right under our noses. This would make it too easy on us. The enemy does not want us to remain focused on God, so he is constantly distracting us. And he is really good at it. But, if we know what to look for, we’ll know how to recognize it and prepare to push on anyway.
Seduction of comfort. Comfort is successful in keeping people stuck because, well, it’s comfortable. It’s easy. Unfortunately, we are not called to easy living. Being a follower is hard. It is a path riddled with sticks and thorns and it’s anything but comfortable. After all, sometimes, stepping out of comfort is the only way to reach those who are far from God.
Allure of constant distraction. We are distracted by being distracted. Our world is fast and loud and often sweeps us away. We flutter from one thing to the next, not taking time to complete one thing fully before moving on. Being distracted is a way we have learned to cope with things that are too hard, too complicated, too scary. So instead of investing, we allow distraction.
Temptation of quitting. If we take a cue from Paul, we will begin to understand that God is the only answer. He is the only way to get through those trying seasons. Our stamina for all things difficult is not very high, and the allure of quitting is very real. Sometimes, throwing in the towel sounds like a much easier option than continuing to fight the good fight. God promises us time and time again that He will bring good things – it’s up to us to persevere in order to experience this good.
Jesus is good at reminding us that everything can be done to the glory of God. From tearful prayers in a valley to shouting praise on a mountain top, everything can be done to the glory of God. This is good news! Everything can be in response to the incredible gift we have already been given. We just have to ride the waves and hold on tight until we are blessed with dry land and rest, which God promises. And, thankfully, God never goes back on a promise.