So much ahead of me remains—more adventures; more friends, new and old; more lessons which I have learned and relearned and will learn again still. A vast expanse of unseen, undecided, untrodden, unspoiled possibilities lies before me, field and forest where none have set foot, and the compass has been laid in my hand, the mantle on my shoulders. The sun rises over the mountains, gleaming behind the peak, and what comes before is hidden in shadow... for now. But I see light, and that is enough. The future now seems not burdensome, but tantalizing.
I know the billowing sorrow will roll my way again, and the surf of grief break over my soul. I don't think they will leave me for long while I walk this earth. But haven't I a Rock to cling to? If the believer is expected to press on even without material comforts, is he not also to persevere when emotional prosperity is withheld? If I count all things to be loss in view of the knowledge of Him, isn't happiness numbered among them? The pleasant emotions may have been gain to me, but they are but rubbish compared to gaining Christ, to knowing the fellowship of His sufferings, to be conformed with His death that I may attain to the resurrection.
As He lives in us, so He suffers with us. If it is not really we who live, but He, are not our griefs and hardships also His? Is this what it means to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ—that Jesus, though He suffered tremendously, did not in thirty-three years encounter every affliction the human heart and body may face, and so lives through us to demonstrate that He can overcome all things?
Some days, every breath is a crucifixion in its own. The monotony of the mundane often wears on my spirits more harshly than acute affliction.
The days, however, are not purposeless. With each day we lay a new brick in our lives, and we must lay each diligently, lest the whole structure crumble. So often, the events that seem to us extravagant, exciting, glorious, are little more than molding and finials. And without the bricks, what would the trim be but a pile of lumber? It is the bricks, laid one after another in monotonous fashion, that provide form and meaning to the structure.
We may feel that we are biding our time until our lives really begin, but in truth our time of preparation is just as important as what we are preparing for. He who is faithful in a very small thing is faithful also in much. Our conduct in the mundane indicates how we will react when faced with greater trials later. Jesus laid down His life before He ever set foot on Calvary—how else could He have had the authority to command His disciples to take up their crosses daily? And His death would have been futile had He not first obeyed the Father in every seemingly insignificant detail.
For the one who dies for Christ must die a single death of the body. The one who lives for Christ dies a thousand deaths of the will.
We may feel we have little to offer up to the Almighty, but as the widow cast her mite into the treasury, so we must lay our small sacrifices before Him. The simple act of serving—or withholding—a cup of water is remembered on Judgment Day. The one who forfeits his own ambitions to cover the naked with his own cloak, or feed the hungry his own portion, or to visit the shut-in, hoists the cross upon his back in the manner of his Lord.
For it is not the sacrifice itself which He desires, but the compassion which leads to it. That compassion may not lead one upon a mountaintop to be seen and lauded by man for one's daring expedition, but into a sunless pit to rescue the souls out of it. And in that pit glows all the warmth of heaven, crowning with its light the head of him who humbles and denies himself to descend into its depths.
Yes, now the future appears bright and gleaming. I must remind myself that it is always so, regardless of what clouds may obscure it for now as they dampen the soil ahead with their mercies.
And I must remember, too, not to yearn impatiently for tomorrow, for today has enough blessing and opportunity of its own.