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Opportunities Lost
Never Regained?   

Q. I am entering the last phase of my life. I can't help but compare my life with high school chums and friends who have been very successful. Many became famous musicians and some became writers. All have grandchildren while I don't. So I just feel like a failure. I spent most of my life struggling with mental illness, in-and-out of institutions and on the psychiatrist's couch. Such a waste…


Successes the Closest they will ever get to Heaven

I hear you. I want you to remember a couple of things. First, my guess is that many of your childhood friends are not Christians. So their successes are the closest they will ever get to heaven. This life is it. This is their reward. Whatever children and grandkids they have form their ultimate achievements and sense of belonging. That's all for them.

Failures the Closest you will get to Hell

On the other hand, you are a believer. So, this life on planet earth is the closest you will ever get to hell. You have a wonderful future to look forward to. The chances are that God will take the talents and gifts you never developed here on earth and may turn them into goals and achievements in heaven. Maybe you will be a famous musician in the New Jerusalem Philharmonic. Maybe your fame as a writer will multiply in ways you can't even imagine.

Eunuchs' Memorial

As for not having children or grandchildren - listen to and pay attention to what the LORD says about this for believers:

And don't let the eunuchs say,
'I'm a dried-up tree with no children and no future.'
For this is what the LORD says:
I will bless those eunuchs
who keep my Sabbath days holy
and who choose to do what pleases me
and commit their lives to me.
I will give them - within the walls of my house-
a memorial and a name
far greater than sons and daughters could give.
For the name I give them is an everlasting one.
It will never disappear!

(Isaiah 56:3-5, NLT)

Isn't that a wonderful verse? God promises He will never forget you. You will be remembered in a way far greater than those who have descendents here on earth!

A Christian's Goal on Planet Earth

Finally, there is a wonderful saying that summarizes what the Christian's goal should be here on earth. It says,

"One life to live
twill soon be past.
Only what's done
For Christ
will last."

This saying is worth memorizing because it's the truth. Only those things we've done in the name of Christ are worthwhile. Paul says it well in 1 Corinthians 3. Some verses from that section include:

…whoever is building on this foundation (Jesus Christ) must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have - Jesus Christ….on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person's work has any value. If the work survives that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames (1 Cor. 3:10-15, NLT).

Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 5:10,

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body (NLT).

In other words we will be judged for everything we have done. But, only those things we have done for Christ will last forever. Awesome stewardship!

Finally, remember that we are each uniquely responsible to God for our own lives. We aren't supposed to compare ourselves with other people. Paul reminds us,

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct (Galatians 6:4-5, NLT).

Doing Nothing?

Even Corrie ten Boom dedicated her life to prayer for the last decade of her life. She had a stroke and could do "nothing" in the eyes of the world. Yet, she became a prayer warrior - probably one of the best "works" she achieved on earth.

Although she is loved and remembered for hiding Jews during WWII and surviving a German concentration camp, it won't surprise me to learn that the Lord equally rewards her last years as a prayer warrior.

Specific Works for You

The apostle Paul taught us that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

You might want to begin to pray that God will open doors for you to minister to others. None of us are left out. God has uniquely given each of us specific jobs to do.

We are Comforted to Comfort Others

Some of us are comforted by God so that we can turn around and comfort others who suffer the same way. God "comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:4).

One of your jobs is to find those who are suffering like you so that you can help them.

Now let's all get busy. We have important work to do!

Recommended Reading:

Piper, John. 2003. Don't waste your life. Wheaton, ILL: Crossway.

Wilkinson, Bruce. 2002. A life God rewards. Sisters, OR: Multnomah.

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