When Jeff learned that his mother’s health was rapidly declining, he immediately caught a plane to be with her. He sat at her bedside holding her hand, singing hymns, comforting her, and expressing his love for her. She passed away, and at her funeral many told Jeff what a blessing his mother had been. She was gifted in Bible teaching, counseling others, and leading prayer groups. These were vital parts of serving Christ until near the end of her life. She finished strong for Christ.
The play Amadeus tells of a composer in the 18th century seeking to understand the mind of God. The devout Antonio Salieri has the earnest desire, but not the aptitude, to create immortal music. It infuriates him that God has instead lavished the greatest of musical genius ever known on the impish Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina held the record of 18 Olympic medals. She won them in the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Olympics. The 48-year-old record was surpassed when Michael Phelps swam for his 19th gold in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay in the 2012 London Games. “[Latynina] kind of got lost in history,” the publisher of the International Gymnast magazine said. When the Soviet Union broke up, “we had forgotten about her.”
In a children’s ministry in my church, we hand out cards to the kids when we notice their good behavior. They collect the cards and receive prizes for the good choices they’ve made. We are trying to reinforce good behavior rather than focusing on bad behavior.
Every March, the Iditarod Trail Race is held in Alaska. Sled dogs and their drivers, called “mushers,” race across a 1,049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome. The competing teams cover this great distance in anywhere from 8 to 15 days. In 2011, a record time was set by musher John Baker who covered the entire route in 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. The teamwork between dogs and driver is remarkable, and those who compete are tenacious in their efforts to win. The first-place winner receives a cash prize and a new pickup truck. But after so much perseverance in extreme weather conditions, the accolades and prizes may seem insignificant and transient.
Most of us look to friends and colleagues for rewards: a slap on the back, a hero’s medal, applause, a sincere compliment. But according to Jesus, the more important rewards await us after death. It’s possible that the most significant human acts of all are carried out in secret, seen by no one but God. In a nutshell, the message of the kingdom is this: Live for God and not other people.
Many businesses have “points programs” that offer rewards to loyal customers. You can stack up these rewards by using their companies’ services, like eating at local restaurants, staying at certain hotels, or flying on particular airlines. Choosing to spend your money this way makes a lot of sense.
I once resolved to read all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays in one year. To my surprise, fulfilling the task seemed far more like entertainment than work. I expected to learn about Shakespeare’s world and the people who inhabited it, but I found that Shakespeare mainly taught me about my world.
One of my nephews brought a book of Magic Eye images to a family gathering. Magic Eye images look like ordinary two-dimensional patterns, but when viewed in a certain way, the flat surface appears three-dimensional.