Remember the fable about a tortoise and a rabbit? It’s so improbable! Wearied by the rabbit’s constant boasting, the turtle challenged him to a race. What kind of race would this be? The quick rabbit and a short-legged, heavy-shelled turtle in a race? Aesop, the Greek story-teller who lived about 650 B.C., tells us that Mr. Rabbit ran quickly ahead and turned off the course to find a shade tree and catch a nap. Meanwhile, Mr. Turtle plodded along, not stopping even though he, too, was tired. When rabbit awakened and ran to the finish line, he found turtle waiting for him with a bit of advice – ‘slow and steady wins the race!’
Those who are attractive or blessed with charisma enjoy many advantages in life. Rewards often go to those who ‘look’ like winners. Multiple studies reveal that tall men make more money, on average, than shorter men. Blonde women are compensated better! Workers who work out and stay fit are paid more! (You Are Judged by Your Appearance, Forbes, 2013) So, does that mean that all the rest of us are without hope? If we don’t have ‘the look’ does it mean we cannot compete in the race, that we will never win? Not at all! Stars may get the attention, but the faithful plodders usually make the greatest difference over time. They compensate for what they lack in ‘star power’ with hard work, networking, and showing up every day, on time, ready to do what they are asked to do. When the favorite one has dropped out, burnt out, or moved on; the steady one is still standing!
Christian, God values steady, faithful people in His Kingdom. Christianity has its share of super-stars who can tell miracle stories. The church has a celebrity cult that equals that of the rest of the world. Our stars come and go, but the work of God is done mostly by servants who work for the joy of the Lord, obscurely, faithfully, and effectively. The truth is (and you need to believe it) that all of God’s children are gifted children! Teaching about the work of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!” (1 Corinthians 12:7, The Message)
Let’s not fall for the lie that we are not _________ (tall, rich, smart, pretty) enough to do well in God’s work. Let’s not use our perception of some flaw in ourselves as an excuse to avoid serving the Lord. When things get rough, and they will from time to time, let’s take the lesson of Hebrews and “fix our eyes on Jesus who for the joy set before Him endured!” Media portrayals aside, the truth is that Jesus did not rely on His attractiveness. Isaiah tells us that “There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.” (Isaiah 53:2-3, NLT) But, He served well and saved the world from sin.
Are you overly confident because of your abilities? Humility invites the real strength of the Spirit. Are you wearied by rejection? Take this promise to heart: “This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:10-12, NLT) Keep walking! Take the steady, standing wisdom of God’s Word to heart. He says “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. … So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:23-24, 35-36, NLT)
Here is the word from the Word, penned by Paul at the end of his life, a life that many thought was too ordinary, too weak, too flawed to be worth much, but one that God used to change history.
“This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish,
believed all the way.
All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause!
Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right … by everyone eager for his coming. “ (2 Timothy 4:7-8, The Message)
The celebration at the finish line is going to be some party! I want to finish well and be a part of it, don’t you?
I have decided, I have resolved,
To wait upon You, Lord.
My Rock and Redeemer, shield and reward,
I’ll wait upon You, Lord.
As surely as the sun will rise,
You’ll come to us.
Certain as the dawn appears.
You’ll come, let Your glory fall,
As You respond to us.
Flood into our thirsty hearts again.
You’ll come, You’ll come.
We are not shaken, we are not moved,
We wait upon You, Lord.
Mighty Deliverer, triumph and truth,
We wait upon You, Lord.
As surely as the sun will rise
You’ll come to us,
Certain as Your word endures.
Chains be broken, lives be healed!
Eyes be opened, Christ is revealed!
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