Have you ever done something for someone out of the kindness of your own heart, only to have them give you something for your effort anyway?
Several years ago, a lady in my church lost her husband suddenly from a massive stroke. Just like that, he was gone. She called me the next day and asked me to sing his favorite song at his funeral. What an honor. He was a particularly special man, and I was humbled to be part of his celebration. The song I was asked to sing was one of my favorites as well, In Christ Alone.
After the beautiful and inspirational service, the widow approached me with a look on her face I’ll never forget. I struggle to put into words what she said to me in her expression. But I could tell that what I provided for her was something completely invaluable to her. For me, being part of this special day, and the honor of being asked personally by the widow was absolutely sufficient for me. But that look on her face was my goal. As she hugged me and said thank you, she stuffed some money in my coat pocket. I quickly grabbed it and tried to return it to her. She looked me straight in the eye and, without saying it this way, she convinced me that the only way she knew to tangibly appreciate my effort was in this way. Had I rejected her, I would have extinguished what was burning in her heart.
There is something particularly profound when we are rewarded for something we do when we are filled to satisfaction by simply doing it.
I have often told people that if there was no such thing as heaven, God is still deserving of my love, my devotion and my life. Heaven is not my motivation. It is not my goal. It is, however, my destination. I live the life I live because I am filled beyond satisfaction by merely being a Christian. The joy I have in serving God, in being active in ministry, in blessing others, in exploring the bible, in prayer, in worship…it’s a reward unto itself. But the fact remains, heaven is promised to me.
I am of the belief that while I am rewarded with the promise of eternal life in perfect fellowship with God, heaven isn’t primarily for my benefit. Instead, I believe that God prepared a place where He could spend eternity with His greatest love of all.
While the money the woman gave me was a blessing, it meant much more to her than it did to me. Believe me, heaven will be a place I will appreciate in ways which are too great for my pea brain to process. But with a facial expression I’ve seen before, from the widow that day, I can imagine the heart of God reaching out to me in a manner which says how priceless it is to Him that I chose to live my life for Him, and that we will spend eternity together.
THAT is my motivation.