Before, and first, work that seems easiest can be costlier long-term. Now, second, work that seems effortless has been faithfully practiced. Tony Gwynn had a lifetime batting average of .338, finishing fourth among all players with 3000 hits. He held 8 National League batting titles and played in 15 All-Star games, 11 as a starter. It seemed mechanical: the pitcher threw the ball and 3 times out of 10 Tony got a hit. Except...he had tapes on how every club pitched him, in every situation. He corrected flaws by watching his batting stance and swing. He studied tapes on long flights.
Excellence results when skill merges with effort. Even lesser skill can achieve superiority with consistent effort. If Christian seek a refined spiritual life: with the grace of Fred Astaire dancing; or the authority of Yul Brynner ruling, plan to succeed, because God majors in success! But also plan to spend time in Bible reading and prayer. In God’s presence he broadens and deepens us in faith and practice.
Third, work can prove useless. To ease the difficulties miners faced when pulling heavy loads up Chilkoot Pass in the Alaska Gold rush, a Washington, D.C. bureaucrat ordered 500 reindeer shipped from Norway to New York. He spent $10,000 more to send them to Seattle, and who remembers how much more to ship them to Hanes, near Skagway. The reindeer, however were useless. They could pull men and supplies on level tundra, but not on steep mountain passes, where they were needed most. There was no natural food like lichens for them. Most of the deer died of starvation, exhaustion and injuries. It would have been a national sandal of bureaucratic bungling had not the battleship Maine blown up in Havana Harbor at the time.
On the 40th anniversary of Trinity, the first Atom-bomb explosion in New Mexico, July 16, 1945, 76 of the scientists involved expressed regret for their part in it. They were brilliant men who devoted themselves to the creation of a new power source. And they demeaned it!
You can read Paul’s response to King Agrippa in Acts 26:24-29, especially verse 29, when Agrippa didn’t think Paul should expect him to become a Christian after hearing his first sermon.
The essence of his deathless words in 26:29 meant: Paul wanted Agrippa to: know Jesus as he did; experience Jesus as he had; have the hope Jesus gave him; possess the confidence Jesus granted him in facing life, death and the after-life.
Paul was saying that he had served Jesus for 25 years and THROUGH it ALL he had learned to trust in Jesus and learned to trust in God, and it had been more than WORTH it ALL.
-End Part II-