Someone once asked me “What is the real prize, eternal life or Jesus Christ?”
It’s not an easy question to answer. I think the whole point is that knowing, having a relationship with and loving Jesus Chris is the real prize. All the other stuff, the eternal salvation, eternal life etc., that’s just part of the package.
It’s not hard to see why people often lose sight of Jesus Christ being the real prize. We often become so wrapped up with things of this world; family, money, material goods, that we focus solely on working towards eternal salvation and life. Ah! But you say those things are only possible through Jesus Christ! Yes, right you are indeed. My point, however, is this: We are working so hard on satisfying ourselves in this world and only focussing on continuing in the ever after, we neglect pursuing, developing and nurturing a relationship with Jesus Christ.
My entire life, when someone dies, we often comfort ourselves by saying “That person is in heaven now. I can’t wait to see them again.” Not that there is anything wrong with that.
What we should be focusing on is an eternity spent worshipping and glorifying our Lord and Savior.
How do we switch the focus from the other stuff to the real prize?
I think it starts with seeking a relationship, better knowing and understanding the Lord. It also involves remembering to count your blessings and recognizing how the Lord is and has worked in our lives. This is daunting, I know, because often the work the Lord is doing is not how or what we would have chosen. It is there none-the-less.
When my Daddy died, I was crushed and angry. I couldn’t see any good. God was cruel to have robbed me of my Daddy. What I should have been focusing on and been thanking God for is:
- Daddy was 70 years, 4 months and 16 days old when he died. Most of his time here on earth was spent being healthy, happy, productive and loved by many. Sure, he had times of sorrow, heartache, struggles and strife. Overall Daddy had a good life.
- Daddy lived 17 years longer than the doctors ever really thought he would. In 1991, Daddy suffered a massive heart attack resulting in a triple bi-pass and significant cardiac damage. It wasn’t until a few days before he died did we know that his cardiac ejection fraction (blood pumped from the heart) was only at 10%. A normal ejection fraction is between 55 – 70%. Also, at that time we learned 80% of his cardiac tissue was severely damaged or dead.
- Daddy, who I can only recall seeing in church a couple of times, met with a preacher and made his peace in the days before he died. I never got to ask him if that meant he had been saved. I do remember how strange I thought it was that Daddy had asked for a preacher. When I asked him about that, all he said was when you are staring death in the face, things that should have been clear all along comes into full focus.
- Daddy had always been full of life, who was sharp minded and had a quick, dry wit, never lost that. As he grew sicker, his body slowed down and was wearing out on him, but for the most part his mind was sharp as a tack. I am able to look back now and thank God that we didn’t lose him before we lost him.
Anyways, my point? Had I known the Lord at the time of my Daddy’s death, perhaps I could have focused on the reasons to thank God, rather than how God robbed me. It has taken a while to realize that Daddy’s death wasn’t about me. It was about ending his pain and suffering. It was about him completing his journey her on earth. While he was my Daddy, he belonged to and was only on loan from the Lord.
There are so many blessings in my life. Far more than I can count or list out. For me, at least, remembering to look for, see and recognize how the Lord is blessing my life and working in and through my life helps me keep my eye on the prize, Jesus Christ. Everything else? The eternal salvation, eternal life, getting to see loved ones again, etc., those are just perks*.
What is your prize?
How do you stay focused on it?
*Just a random bit of information. My Daddy was often called Perk by friends.