Recently, on a late night T.V. program, a crooner of my teenage era who had lost everything to alcohol and a string of failed marriages, was attempting to resurrect the glory of his withered career, as he labored through forgotten ballads in a voice long in need of retirement. I felt sad for him.
But you know, none of us can live on the “glory” of our past. Like it or not, “yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s ball games.” We need more than that to hold on to.
Most of us, I suppose, have received a few awards along the way, and have experienced the thrill of that momentary applause and recognition. But time passes, memories fade, people change. Life moves on. And those diminished accolades, as Paul so aptly stated, are, in reality no more than a “perishable wreath.” (1 Corinthians 9:25)
Yet many of those wreaths were purchased at great personal price. Recently, a friend of an acquaintance who commanded an enviable position with an international corporation, was abruptly sacked after 27 years of dutiful, sacrificial service which he gladly gave in exchange for “success.” And the cost? The mortgaging of his family.
Hopefully, he is rethinking his definition of “success,” and coming to the realization that there is more to life than clinging to a diminishing prize. Certainly true “success” is more transcendent than that!
Mother Teresa once said, “God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” Her faithfulness to God is her success. Is it not to be ours as well?
As I attempted to gain perspective on this issue, I came across 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20,
“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”
Paul understood that one day when he stood before Christ, what would count would not be his earthly “success,” formidable as it was, but the lives of the people in whom he had invested for the sake of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Indeed, his maturing flock had become his hope. His joy. His glory. His crown.
QUESTION: By scrutinizing the secret affections of your heart, where in fact does your hope, joy, and glory lie? With a shriveling wreath? Or with the anticipation of an eternal crown?