“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6-7)
“But earnestly desire the greater gifts, and I will show you a still more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31)
One beautiful fall Colorado day in 2016, my wife and I took one of our grandchildren out for a morning of exploration and much needed exercise. We rode our bikes along a river not too far from our home, where the city had just finished a new recreational project. While we were there my grandson Peter [fictitious name], a typical young lad, started picking up stones to throw into the river. Initially, we worked on teaching him how to skip the small, flat ones. But soon that no longer held his interest, and he wandered off looking for the largest boulders he could possibly carry. He wanted to lift and carry the biggest boulder he could, throw it as far as he could, and make the biggest splash he could make. The risks of getting wet or tripping and falling down paled in comparison to conquering the biggest mountain he could find.
As I watched his efforts, the Spirit of the Lord immediately spoke to mine. “Why is it the men I created and commanded to explore, and to lead in My kingdom, get this backwards? Why do they start out looking to take risks that will make a big splash for Me on earth, and yet as time goes by they drop their boulders and settle for smaller and smaller stones to skip instead?”
The Lord also brought to my remembrance a friend and brother I knew in my younger days as a Christian. He was a brilliant man who worked for a high-tech company. Joe [fictitious name] was a father of four, and he and I were involved in leadership in our congregation. Like me, he loved the Lord and was very active in his faith. Then the economy turned. He got laid off, and was forced to take a job doing menial labor in a factory to make ends meet. At first he hated it, for it provided no challenge to his considerable gifts. But as time went on he got used to the “comfortableness” of it, and stopped seeking more challenging opportunities. He dropped his boulders and began settling for stones. But there was a price to pay, as there always is when we settle for mediocrity in the kingdom of God. He eventually became very disillusioned with life, dropped out of fellowship, divorced his wife, and walked away from his kids.
Jesus calls us to a process of constant maturing during our time spent on earth, as the verses above illustrate. If we continue to try to live for the comforts of the world, or turn back to them after coming to understand the kingdom, we simply cannot grow in our relationship with Christ, or our fruitfulness in the world. We pick up the stones of work, school, recreation, retirement, politics, and other interests that keep our hands so full we simply have to drop the boulders we were once willing to pick up for Jesus. As our responsibilities in the world increase, our willingness to take risks of any kind decrease. Soon we are holding a comfortable boulder for the world, and pebbles for God. Jesus said of such men, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62)
Our Lord picked up the greatest boulder of all for us, took the biggest risk, and made the biggest splash in history when He sent His Son to give His all on the cross. Is He going to simply overlook it in the name of grace when we offer no return on his investment, because we traded boulders for pebbles? I think the servant who hid his talent under the rock might have an opinion or two on that one if he could tell us. But he has bigger problems right now. Time to get rid of the comfortableness of this world, and start taking risks for the One who wrote the book on them.
Note: This article is to appear in Christian Broadcasting Network’s online magazine as the featured devotional April 18, 2017