As I listened to the choir director urge them on to greatness in their vocal abilities, I was reminded of a question posed earlier in the week in a FaceBook group called The God Questions: "What is my purpose?" Another way to look at that question would be "Why did God create me?"
Even though it might not seem so at first glance, my answer had been similar to our illustrious choir director's assertions.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth --
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7 NIV emphasis mine)
It looks like we were created for God's glory. I don't know about you, but most of the time I want to be created for my own glory. If I'm not careful, I might think God is being selfish creating me for His glory. Then I need to climb down off of my high-horse and remember Who the Creator is and who the created is. (Oops!)
Recently my husband (John) and his buddy Jeff began training together, mostly to get into shape and to lose some weight. Then this idea of training for a triathlon sprint came up. (A triathlon sprint is a shorter version of a triathlon. The one they did consisted of swimming 300 yards, cycling 13.1 miles, and running 3 miles.) Jeff's wife and I have been so very proud of how hard they have worked, especially since Jeff has lost over 100 pounds!
As these two guys kept training, their excitement drew in more men who wanted to be a part of their team. By the time the deadline to register arrived, eight men from our church were training to race in this triathlon sprint together. This band of brothers encouraged each other and helped each other train. In fact, the most experienced cyclist helped many of the team members with their bicycles and equipment, at a loss to himself I am sure, just to make certain everyone had what he needed to perform at his best.
Within a couple of months before the race, Satan threw everything he had at these men to cause them to give up or to not give their best. Unexpected loss and hurts threatened to sidetrack these men. However, this race was how they were coping with their loss and hurts. So they valiantly channeled their energy into fuel for the race.
Three weeks before the race, John was in an accident on a church ski trip, severely injuring his index finger. The doctor strongly discouraged him from participating in the race, but that doctor didn't know the strength of the will in the heart of my husband nor did he understand the need for John to finish what he had started with his teammates. John was told he could not get in the water to swim until two days before the race. So unfortunately his training backslid considerably. Yet on Sunday, John Bacon competed like a champion and finished his first triathlon without the use of PEPK (Performance Enhancing Pain Killers)!
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)
I'm here to remind you that we can't give up! There is so much to do. There are so many in need of love and encouragement. Each of us has a race or a vocal competition or sorts that needs us to rise to the greatness God created us for....to glorify Him. When life is difficult, we keep going, we keep loving, we keep encouraging, we keep believing.
My baby girl Savannah sang her heart out that morning with her choir with a concussion she received on that same ski trip. (Let me tell you! We Bacon's live adventurous lives!) That afternoon she couldn't sing because she was so dizzy that Mama said, "no." She is still in the choir, and she is still a singing angel on the mend.
The Bacons know about difficulties, and I'm sure you do too. Satan has a way of working overtime to steal our joy and scheming to take away the glory from God. We can't let that happen. No matter what comes our way, I will praise Him from Whom all blessings flow. Will you join me?