In 1952 Florence Chadwick, a renowned
long-distance swimmer, attempted to swim some 26 miles between Catalina Island
and the California coast. She swam for 15 hours, then quit only 1/2 mile from
her goal. The reason — fog prevented her from seeing how close she was
to the coast. She became discouraged and gave up.
Believers making their way through
life in a world that is hostile toward their Savior can also become discouraged
and depressed. We defeat such discouragement by keeping the promised return
of Jesus Christ in focus. The great expectation of the Lord’s soon return
gladdens our hearts in the days of weariness and desert. It provides the resolve
Paul reminded us we are not in this world without hope. (See Ephesians 2:12,13.)
We are to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened in order that we may know
the hope to which God has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance
in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. (See Ephesians
We know that after the trial comes
the crown of life; therefore, we can even now begin to rejoice. (See James
1:12.) Like the farmer waiting for his crop to ripen, we are called to patience
since the Lord’s coming is near. (See James 5:7-9.) Because we will
receive what has been promised us, we do not throw away our confidence as
those who shrink back and are destroyed; rather, we are among those who persevere,
believe and are saved. (See Hebrews 10:35-39.)
We take the Lord’s Word to
the Philadelphia church as a personal message to our own hearts: “I
am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown”
(Revelation 3:11, NIV).
In the Spirit we welcome the admonition
to take hold of the hope offered to us and be greatly encouraged. We have
this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner
sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered
on our behalf. (See Hebrews 6:18-20.)
Look where our anchor of hope is.
Not in some watery depth holding fast to the ocean bottom. Our anchor is up,
not down. It is not in the black deep but up in heaven’s heights, where
Christ went into the Holy of Holies. Anchored there, a lifeline has gone down
to steady us in our wild gales. We are being held steadfast and sure. And
one day soon Christ himself is going to come from that very Holy of Holies,
pull the rope and take us up. What a day that will be.
Setting our hope on Him (see 2
Corinthians 1:10) gives us the resolve to abide faithfully, to continue at
our tasks. Our anticipation of Christ’s return does not make us escapists.
Rather, we become strengthened and galvanized to action. The grand news of
His coming invigorates our actions and thrills us with expectation.
Destiny: Biblical Teachings on the Last Things
Stanley M. Horton
Psalm in Your Heart,
George O. Wood, Hal Donaldson, & Ken Horn
here or call
How accurately C.S.
Lewis described such anticipation in Mere Christianity:
“Hope … means … a continual looking forward
to the next world. … It does not mean that we are to leave
the present world as it is. If you read history you will find
that the Christians who did the most for the present thought most
of the next. … It is since Christians have largely ceased
to think of the other world that they are inefficient in this.
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in: aim at earth and
you will get neither.”
Have I resolved to endure to the
end? Are my present trials even heavier because I have lost the shining hope
of Christ’s return? Have I been looking down instead of up? Let’s
resolve to persevere and fulfill the Great Commission until the Lord calls
us to be with Him forever.
My uncle, Victor Plymire, was a pioneer missionary to China and Tibet. He
went to that part of the world in 1908 and served 16 years before he won his
first Tibetan convert. In his 19th year of missionary service, his only son,
6 years of age, and his wife died within one week of each other from smallpox.
The local cemetery refused him burial permission, so he bought a small plot
of land on a Tibetan hillside overlooking a valley outside of town. It was
the middle of winter in that bitter-cold part of the world. He had only enough
strength to dig one grave through the frozen ground for the two of them.
What was his and their reward for
all of this?
Especially in the West, we live
in a period of instant gratification. We expect immediate reward for labor
rendered, service given and investment made. But the Bible talks about delayed
reward. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take
up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark
There is no ecstasy for the saints
in the treatment they receive at the hands of the world. They are not rewarded
on earth with wealth and mansions, with luxury and leisure, with titles and
accolades. Their reward is one deferred — until the coming of the Lord.
My Uncle Victor died without ever
knowing what purpose the death of his wife and son filled in the economy of
God. But about 65 years after that desolate moment on the Tibetan mountainside,
and some 36 years after his death, God’s long-range purposes began to
come into view.
In 1991 the church in Victor Plymire’s
adopted town in China wanted to officially reopen. Permission was denied on
the grounds the church had no proof the property purchased and buildings erected
by my uncle had ever been used as a church. The officials, as did everyone
else in the town, knew the true story. But games were being played with the
pastor, the son of the martyred leader left in charge of the work when Victor
Plymire left in 1949.
In desperation the Chinese pastor
asked my missionary cousin, David Plymire, if any written evidence existed
which could prove the buildings and property belonged to the church. David
came back and searched the file of his father in Springfield, Mo. There he
found a deed. But it was not the deed to the church property — no such
legal instrument has ever been found. The deed was to the grave on the hillside.
For some reason known only to God,
Victor Plymire had deeded that grave not in his own name, but the name of
the church. When David Plymire returned to China and gave the deed to that
pastor, the local authorities accepted it as incontrovertible evidence that
the church had indeed existed. The property was returned, the buildings were
repossessed, and the church was officially open again.
Had the town cemetery been available
to Plymire, there would have been no deed for proof. In fact, years ago the
town cemetery was leveled and apartments were built over it; but the Plymire
grave still rests undisturbed on the edge of the sprawling town. God, who
had not caused the deaths of Victor Plymire’s first wife and son, nevertheless
intended to use that loss to anchor the church in that very town at the close
of the century. Plymire died long before this twist in the story; but we now
can see an earthly reward for this precious sacrifice.
There is an even greater day of
reward coming. Someday the grave itself will open and the dead shall come
forth. On that day Victor and Grace Plymire and their son John David are going
to receive a reward from the hand of Jesus himself. That reward will eclipse
That hour will be one of vindication
for the saints, when the unbelieving world is judged and God’s children
receive their rewards.
“Look, he is coming with
the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all
the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen”
Knowing of that coming day fills
us with wonderful assurance: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan
under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
The people of God can take great
comfort from the last message Jesus speaks in the Bible, the beginning words
of which state: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and
I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).
What will be my reward on that
day? Have I voluntarily borne my cross daily, carried suffering in my own
life for the gospel’s sake — not because I had to, but because
of my own choice? Have I been faithful and true? Can Jesus really count on
May the reality of our Lord’s
soon return give us strength to continue to fulfill the Great
Commission, knowing our reward in serving Him is coming.
O. Wood, D.Th.P, is general secretary of the Assemblies of God.
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