For weeks now, I’ve had this song swirling around my brain. The lyrics have come, unbidden, to my mind over and over throughout the days and I’ve even found myself softly singing them in public a couple of times, without realizing it. Each time, I catch myself and stop, usually when I notice someone is looking at me very strangely, wondering if I’m some crazy old lady just talking to herself.
I know this kind of thing happens to all of us at one time or another: for some inexplicable reason a song gets caught in our brains and if it’s an annoying song, the more we try to quit thinking about it, the more we continue to think about it. Thankfully, the truths found in this particular song are personally motivating and worth meditating on so, to me, it’s anything but annoying and I don’t mind its persistent presence in my mind.
A few blog posts ago I mentioned the ongoing, internal evaluation I’ve been doing because of my turning 60. I’ve been asking God to show me where I’m failing to allow Him to do whatever He wants in me and He’s definitely been putting His finger on some pretty tender spots. Ouch!
As a part of this evaluation process I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions like: When I die, what will my Savior say to me? Will He be pleased to see the reflection of His character in me? Or will He be saddened by my lack of growth and progress? Will it be shown that I lived the bulk of my life to honor God and serve Him? Or that much of my life was wasted in activities that in the end, mean absolutely nothing?
The Holy Spirit uses questions like these to remind me of what’s important and to show me where my heart really is with Him. In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, the people would worship false gods all week, then in the temple in Jerusalem, they’d go through the ritual sacrifices there, then walk out, thinking they were doing just fine as far as God was concerned. But in Jeremiah 7:9-10 God makes it clear just how NOT fine the people actually were in relationship with Him, “Will you steal, murder and commit adultery, swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods you haven’t known before, then come and stand before Me in this house (the temple), which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’ Delivered so you can do all these abominations?”
I don’t think there’s anything in life more tragic than for us to think we’re doing fine with God when in fact, we aren’t. Believe me, we don’t want to leave this earth and meet Him in heaven, only to have the rudest awakening possible. If I think I’m doing fine, I’ll continue in my comfortable life patterns, and I won’t be motivated to desire a closer relationship with God. However, if I humbly agree with the Spirit that I’ve been found lacking in certain areas, then I can confess those to God and trust Him to live through me in ways that bring glory to my Savior now… and eternal rewards in heaven later.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the truly important things of life; being a loving wife, nurturing our children, cultivating meaningful relationships with family and friends, working a job that helps our family thrive, and serving others in our local church and community. Unfortunately, we can easily get so focused and so busy being busy with these important things that we forget what’s MOST important and what alone will make our short time on earth really matter for eternity, and that’s bringing glory to God.
It’s a question of balance, isn’t it? Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and all these things (clothing, food, etc.) will be added to you.” So yes, do make sure your husband, children, family, friends, community, and church body are loved and cared for and that you do your job to the very best of your ability… just make sure that in all your efforts, the One who deserves all your devotion honestly has your central focus. Because in the end, nothing else will matter for any of us.
The song I’ve been fixated on is called, “Could It Be I’ll Win a Starless Crown?”. It’s an old song, one many of you might not be familiar with but the words are meaningful and motivating and I will include them at the end of my post.
We’re told in James 1:12 that all true believers will receive the crown of life when we die. And 2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us that all believers “must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be rewarded for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” This judgment will be for our words and actions, and not for our sins, because Jesus already took the wrath of God for our sins on Himself when He died on the cross in our place.
These good deeds/works won’t gain us entrance into heaven; only faith in Christ’s death can do that, but these good works come after salvation, as a result of our reliance on the Spirit’s work within us and they will translate into eternal rewards.
Although we won’t be judged by God on the basis of our sins, the Bible makes it clear that this judgment against sins will come to all those who don’t accept the forgiveness of Jesus here on earth and they will all receive the ultimate death sentence in return. This last fact alone should wake us up as believers and cause us to do all we can to share the good news of God’s love and the forgiveness available in Christ to a world that so desperately needs it!
I love the picture in Revelation 4:10 where the twenty-four elders worship God and throw their crowns before His throne. I’m not sure how this will work for the rest of us but I personally LOVE the idea of throwing the crowns and additional rewards I receive right back to the feet of the One who gave me both the desire and the power to accomplish these good works. What a picture of humble adoration and worship to God!
Because of the Spirit’s work in me I have a growing dissatisfaction with my current level of maturity and I long to know Him more deeply, and to bring glory to Him with my life. And while I definitely know I’m a work in process, I daily hang onto the promise from Philippians 1:6, that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God will never give up on me or you. Never.
So, after all is said and done, let’s not settle for anything less than God desires for us. Let’s never be complacent and comfortable with merely making it to heaven will no rewards to offer back to God. May our lives be characterized by passionate devotion to Jesus and a stubborn focus on Him that keeps all the other priorities of our lives in balance. This way we’ll never know the tragedy of lives wasted, opportunities lost, and eternal rewards forfeited forever.
“Will I win a starless crown that day, when to heaven I’m called away, when I journey there and lay all my burdens down?
Will I have no trophies for my Lord? Will I lose a full reward? Could it be I’ll win a starless crown?
Will I hang my head in shame when I hear Him call my name, to review before the throne the works I’ve done?
Will my teardrops freely flow when at last I fully know what I’ve lost and what a prize I could have won?
So, I cannot keep from wondering, when I stand before my King; could it be I’ll win a starless crown?”