I remember Mrs. Florence looking Nancy and I in the eyes one day and confidently saying, “God’s going to use you two in a big way some day.” This encouragement came at a time in our lives when we were learning to say, “Yes” whenever we felt like God was leading us to do one thing or another. I don’t really know what big looks like, but I know we have had the opportunity and ability to say, “Yes” to a lot of things in the 15 years that followed. It was not until I was recently asked to speak about how I made the transition from Brian Robert the Chemical Engineer to Brian Robert the Family Pastor that I connected some dots that I hope are an encouragement to you today. I’ll save the why I made the jump for another post; today I want to share how I think it happened.
Learning to let God define the finish line: My finish line has become the desire to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master” [Matt 25:21] when I stand before Jesus.
Read any How-To book including the old and the new testament of the Bible and you will quickly encounter the wisdom that any successful endeavor starts with the end in mind. Investment of time, money, or resources of any kind without a plan will rarely end well. However, making decisions based on a desired outcome will set you up for the best possible outcome.
Setting the pace today for the race you will run tomorrow: A wise friend taught me this principle with the encouragement that if I wanted to impact the world in any significant in the future, I had to be willing to impact the world in the seemingly insignificant opportunities of today. Over the years I have grown to appreciate that just as a runner might train for a marathon, there is an intentional conditioning of the heart that is necessary to foster obedience in the long run to the call of Christ. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”[Matt 6:33] Rarely will a runner complete 26.2 miles without conditioning their heart with many runs at shorter distances. Similarly, a Christian will more often seek God first in the major crossroads of life when he has trained himself to say yes in less significant decisions.
Being prepared to sprint: I’m not a runner, but I have played enough sports through the years to know that you have to be ready to get out in front, or get into position, or get out of the way quickly when the right time comes. If you are too tired, or too weighted down, or too distracted at best you will miss your chance at worst somebody will get hurt. There is a spiritual parallel. If you are too distracted by the world around you, if you are too weighted down by debt or inappropriate relationships, or you find yourself too tired to make a move in the direction that God is leading, then you may miss an opportunity to win.
Put the finish line in focus and imagine hearing “well done thy good and faithful servant”. Start conditioning your heart to run tomorrow’s pace by saying yes to God today. And be prepared to sprint when the time is right, because “God is going to use you in a big way someday.” Whatever big looks like, I can promise you will have lots of opportunities to say yes.