So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10, verse 35.
I remember when I was a kid, my mom would take business trips. This was in the early 1970s, and we lived in Minnesota. At the time, Mom was the one who had a job that took her on trips; Dad worked in the city. A woman working as the breadwinner was unusual in those days, but, then again, my family was always unusual. Anyway, when Mom would travel, beforehand she would ask my sister and I what special thing she could bring home. We’d tell her our wishes, and then we’d spend a day or two anticipating what we’d get. Then Mom would arrive back home and…well…she tried. She got us things she thought we would like but somehow it just wasn’t what we had in mind. One time I remember asking for a toy called Richochet Racers, which was a toy that shot little race cars out of a plastic gun. At the end of that trip, I got a cover for my tennis racket. Another time I asked for a ship model; I got a book. Years later, when Dad traveled, he would get T-shirts and sometimes collectible things like an ebony pig he bought for me in the Philippines (I still have it).
Yet I was always hopeful and always kept the faith that I’d get what I want. Years later, being a parent and grandparent myself, and being one of those who has tried to do what he could with limited resources, I understand my Mom’s (and Dad’s) situation. They did their best with what they had at hand. Somehow I knew this even when I was a kid, and even then, even when disappointed, I still had faith in my parents that they would do their best. It was love.
What does this have to do with verse 35, which isn’t a child’s hope for a toy? Verse 35 PROMISES us that God richly rewards those who put their faith in Him. God guarantees that He will reward us for our faith in Him. But faith in God can be a tough thing to hold on to despite the fact that, when you have a ‘God moment,’ it’s better than anything else on this planet. Even better than hoping for a cool toy. When we have confident faith that God is with us in all situations, He richly rewards us. Richochet Racers? Better than that? A tennis racket cover or a book? Definitely better than those.
What God rewards us with shames Joel Osteen and I both. God rewards us with Himself. He imparts to us His hope, His love, His justice, His strength. We don’t deserve God’s best but that doesn’t stop Him from giving it to us. A toy car won’t do you much good when your parents are buried in the cemetery, but believing that they are alive with Jesus will. An ebony pig isn’t worth much to your soul, but faith in Jesus is priceless because it guarantees you peace now and eternal life forever. A tennis racket cover actually is of good use now but I don’t have that tennis racket (or that cover) anymore. But I still have my faith in God.
Being richly rewarded isn’t a matter of being rich, or even rewarded. It’s about putting your faith in the one who never disappoints because His reward is Himself. It isn’t some stupid claim on seventy-two virgins. It isn’t a fancy house and cars in the Houston suburbs. It isn’t a trip to Disney or even a kiss goodnight from a pretty girl. Being richly rewarded with the God who has revealed Himself to us through His word is a matter of being aligned with Him. Of looking at things His way. Of remembering that He who tests us in so many ways only does so to lovingly build us up for better things. Of knowing that, whenever troubles come our way (and they will), He is there to stand with us and give us what we need to persevere. Of understanding that He loves us immeasurably and wants only the best for us. That’s why He gives us Himself.
Even if Mom had brought me the toy I wanted way back in the early 70s, chances are it would still be in the dump by now (along with that tennis racket cover). What mattered more was knowing that she loved me enough to give me her best as a reflection of the faith she had in our God, who always does the same.
For further reading: Ephesians 3:12.
Lord Jesus, forgive my short-sighted selfishness. Thank You for loving me unconditionally, and thank You for parents and loved ones who do that and their best for us.