See the Finish Line

Connecting Points

Monday, March 28, 2011

Today’s Topic: See the Finish Line

Today’s Text: Isaiah 40:1-2 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.

Where do I begin? We spent 4 days travelling almost 3,000 miles, one day worshiping and relaxing, and four days working in 85 degree temps with high humidity. It was tremendous. We joined God in doing His work and we received the greatest blessings. God’s Kingdom principle of being more blessed by giving than receiving is proven true once again.

I really am struggling with how to begin telling you about the ministry that we did and the people we touched with the grace and love of Jesus. This may seem a little disjointed, but here goes.

When we arrived on the bayou in southern Louisiana, those of us who had been there right after the hurricanes were impressed with how the landscape had recovered. At the same time we were also saddened by the number of homes that had once been under water and were still standing on the ground and being occupied. We actually worked on one such home that had no running water and a broken sewer pipe with raw sewage running down the back of the house onto the ground. We fixed the water and the sewer pipe, but the house needs a lot of work and needs to be raised up.

Living in that house are a grandma and grandpa, their 26-year old disabled daughter, and two grandchildren who were left there by their mother who ran off. The water hasn’t worked for weeks. They get their water through a garden hose hooked up to the neighbor’s house. It’s all cold. They flush the toilet with a bucket. They bath in cold water. In order to fix everything, two of our men had to crawl under the house with only 18 inches of clearance. They slid through rats and spiders and sewage to reach the broken water line. They cleaned the sewage from the back of the house to repair the broken pipe. They went back under the house and strapped up all the other water lines. It was a mess, but now it works. Grandma said she couldn’t wait to take a hot shower.

Serving people. That’s what Jesus did. He went into the sewage of sin and served us. He saved us. Pastor Jerry Moser from the church these people attend said this to me about the conditions these people live in: “When we stand before the Lord someday, how will we explain to Him that we let someone right next door to us rot to death?” Those two men who went under that house are true servants of Jesus. They are real world heroes, although they would never want to be called that.

That was just one small part of our mission trip, but it taught me a huge lesson. How far was I really willing to go to bring comfort to others? Would I have been able to ignore and conquer my claustrophobia and crawl under that house? If I lived in that house, how long would I have put up with those conditions? How long must we wait for the comfort we have been promised?

In Isaiah 40, God is telling the people that their hard service is completed, their sins are paid for, and comfort is coming. But wait, it would be 100 years before their land would be invaded and they would be taken captive. Then it would be another 70 years before their captivity would end. Yet in the mind of God it was already done. They were to take comfort in the promise of God for a glorious outcome even while it was a long way off.

Oh if I could only have that kind of faith. Why do the problems of today overwhelm me so much? Why is my focus always on the hurdles I keep tripping on rather than on the finish line where Jesus stands with outstretched arms to greet me and reward me for my faithful service?

Whatever you are struggling with today, God’s promises are not voided by your circumstances. No matter how long you have been in the middle of this hardship, God’s comfort is available. Your sins have been forgiven. In the mind of God your time has been served. The lessons He wants to teach you are being learned. You are becoming more and more like Jesus. Just keep your eyes on the finish line. Jesus will get you there!

Pastor John