Tastes of Heaven

by Andy Wood on February 11, 2011

in Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Turning Points

“Glamour isn’t greatness, applause isn’t fame, prominence isn’t eminence. The man of the hour isn’t apt to be the man of the ages. A stone may sparkle but that doesn’t make it a diamond. People may have money but that doesn’t make them a success. It’s the seemingly unimportant people who determine the course of history. The greatest forces in the universe are never spectacular. Summer showers do more good than hurricanes but they don’t get a lot of publicity. The world would soon die but for the fidelity, loyalty, creativity and commitment of those whose names are un-honored and unsung.”  -James Sizoo


The Race

It was a day of surprises.  If you had told me the Friday before what I would experience on Saturday, I don’t know whether I would have stayed in bed all day or sat up sleepless the night before.  That Saturday, those years ago, I had a taste of heaven.

Pinewood Derby races are a big event.  Boys ‘n’ dads work together to transform a block of wood into a race car, complete with paint, wheels, decals, and other race car stuff.  Now anyone who knows me knows that I’m no engineer or craftsman.  Put my son together with me on such a project, it’s like the blind leading the blind.  So it was par-for-the-course that Joel sacked out at 9:00 or so Friday night, and that when I went to bed, the car was still wet with paint, and still had no wheels on it.

How do you prepare your son to lose when he’s dreaming of glory?  How do you brace him for the fact that there are more than thirty other boys with cars, and many of them have been doing this for several years?  How do you explain to him that the fun was in the working together, even if we didn’t win a single race?  I did the best I could.  I had him talked into being satisfied if he won a race or two.  So that Saturday morning we took our still-sticky car to test it out, and see how we’d done.

He won the whole thing.  Beat ‘em all.  Mama giggled all the way home.  I was in shock.  The boy was beaming.  He won the race.  Took the trophy.  Hey, Peter on the water, the Mets in ‘69, Namath in the Super Bowl – those were upsets.  We’re talkin’ miracle here!

Who’da thought it?  Certainly not me.  I had spent so much time bracing him to lose, the thought had never occurred to us that he might actually win.  But win he did.  And teach the Lord did.  But the lessons weren’t over.

The Concert

That night we went to a concert.  Great concert, good fellowship, outstanding worship.  It was a reunion of sorts, too.  I ran into some people there I hadn’t seen in years.  But once in their lives, when they were children, I had been their pastor.  Many of them had to remind me of their names.  Many of them reminded me of precious other things:  “You baptized me.”  “You led me to Christ.”  “I’ve missed you!”

If there’s anything stranger than winning when you expected to lose, it’s finding out you’re somebody when you thought you were just another nobody.  Amidst of the joy of reunion, it was hard to know just how to feel.  I was reminded again how easy it is to dismiss our own lives and influence on others.  Fact is, for many people our influence is life-changing.  But some of the ways we’ve touched others’ lives will remain hidden until we see Jesus – and see them.

The Kingdom

Never underestimate the power of your influence.  And don’t let it surprise you that God can use little ol’ you.  Jesus gave a couple of illustrations of the Kingdom of God that make the point.  In both, something small and seemingly insignificant becomes something huge, with influence that permeates everything.

“What is the Kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and plants it in his field. The plant grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make their nests in its branches. Again Jesus asked, “What shall I compare the Kingdom of God with? It is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises” (Luke 13:18-21, GN). 

Apart to itself, the Kingdom has no influence.  Only as the seed falls into the ground or the yeast penetrates the flour is its influence felt.  So also, the Kingdom of God flourishes when it penetrates the kingdom of this world.  Can God use you?  Yes, but you have to be willing to be “planted” in someone else’s life to make it happen.

The Kingdom does its best work in the secret places.  Buried in the soil, the mustard seed grows.  Immersed in the dough, the leaven permeates the bread.  Quietly working in the lives of people that Jesus loves, God’s Kingdom grows.  Can God use you?  Sure, so long as you don’t have to be famous to be useful.

The growth of the Kingdom is a normal, expected event.  It’s natural for a seed to grow, and for leavened bread to rise.  It is just as natural for the Kingdom of God to grow.  We don’t have to manufacture it.  We just have to be faithful participants in God’s working.  Can God use you?  Yes, so long as you don’t confuse your job with his.

The Kingdom transforms natural enemies into friends.  Interesting, the mustard seed, which would be eaten by the birds in seed form, becomes a haven for the birds as it grows and flourishes.  Among other things, this is a picture of love and forgiveness.  As the Kingdom grows, it reaches out in love to those who persecute it, hate, and seek to destroy it.  Can God use you?  Yes, to the degree that you are willing to express his love to anybody.

The Surprises

We Christians love to talk about heaven.  We love to sing about it.  We love to describe it in terms so familiar, you’d think we had already been there for years.  But the truth is, the Lord still has breathtaking surprises waiting for us there. 

I believe in heaven we’re actually going to be surprised that we are standing in a place of victory.  We have grown so accustomed to being whipped, feeling whipped, and acting whipped, this victory stuff will take some getting used to. 

Surprise number two:  we will spend eternity hearing the testimonies of people whose lives we touched, and never knew it down here.  The investments you make in people and in eternity will revisit you, my LifeVesting friend.  You may have forgotten or dismissed it.  But your Father has other ideas.

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