Press On Toward The Goal
by Donald Mehl 10/22/2008 / Devotionals
Recently a comment from a dear friend in the Lord caused me to recall a true story from years ago that I had long forgotten. The story is a reminder that, in spite of what might often seem to be a futile effort on our part to share our faith and God's Word with others, many of the seeds we sow will in fact grow and bear fruit.
The church I attended while growing up was a small town church in the midst of a farming community. The Pastor had been serving the Lord there for at least a dozen years preaching the saving gospel week after week without wavering. During those years life continued on - babies were born, children matured, marriage ceremonies were performed, and funeral services were conducted.
One Sunday morning during the church service I recall the Pastor saying, "I have been your Pastor now for many years faithfully preaching the gospel. Can I see a show of hands from those who can truly say they have come to know the Lord during my ministry here? I'm not referring to those who simply know of Him or about Him, but only those who have come to a repentant and saving faith in Him as their Savior and Lord."
No one raised a hand.
The moment was so quiet that one could have heard a pin drop on the hardwood floor of the sanctuary. For a minute or so the Pastor didn't say anything as he solemnly searched the faces in the congregation. The poor man was visibly shaking as he took out his handkerchief to mop the beads of moisture forming on his forehead.
After partially regaining his composure, but with a quivering voice he said, "I know that my question must not have been understood or clearly heard. I'm asking again for a show of hands from those who can truly say they have come to know the Lord during my ministry here."
At that point several of the people raised their hand. The expression on the Pastor's face changed from one showing grave concern to one of overwhelming relief as the tears flowed freely down his cheeks. At that moment he knew his work for the Lord had not been in vain during those years. His ministry would have been fruitful if only one person had responded, but in that situation there were several of them.
How many times or how long have we prayed for spiritually lost family members or friends without seeing a heart change or lifestyle change in them? Perhaps we have prayed long and hard for those who already know the Lord, but have not fully allowed Him to be the Master of their life.
How many times have we witnessed to a neighbor, a friend, or a co-worker - only to have the gospel message seem to fall on deaf ears? It's especially discouraging when they never respond or seem to show little interest during our attempts to share the Truth with them.
Throughout our life as born again believers, we try to conduct ourselves in a Christ-like manner - doing all things for His honor and glory. However, being human with a sin nature, we often fail miserably and fall short of what is expected of us. Whether we realize it or not, others, especially non-believers, are watching us very closely. We must constantly be on guard to uphold the matchless Name of Jesus.
For those of us who are writers sharing God's Word through our teaching articles, or for those of us who share with others on Christian message boards and other mediums, it can be discouraging when no one seems to care enough to offer comments concerning our work, or worse yet, it's even more disheartening when others attack the basic tenants of our faith. Because of that, we sometimes ask ourselves, "Is it worth the effort?"
Is it worth the effort? The resounding answer is yes! The Pastor I spoke of earlier experienced the great joy of learning that his ministry finally produced fruit after a long period of dedicated effort. We all must press on toward the goal as Scripture commands of us (Phil. 3:14). At times we will suffer disappointment, discouragement, seasons of empty harvest, and even persecution for our faith, but we must press on toward the goal.
Finally, we have this encouraging promise from God as recorded in Isaiah 55:11 NKJV, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
During retirement, my prayer is that I might serve the Lord by sharing the Gospel through my writing. As the Lord leads, my work will inform, challenge and encourage. I also enjoy Biblical theme woodcarving, Bible studies and Christian music. Watch, pray and keep looking up!