We wrapped up our series entitled I PROMISE this week. Over and over again, throughout the messages, Danny would quote this verse, “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God.” (Hebrews 6:18, MSG) And we could visualize our hands wrapping tight around the promises of God and making them our own. Every week, people would tell me about how they were grabbing hold of God’s promises for their life and the ways it was changing them.
Then, on Sunday, Danny said, “Fulfillment is found in being part of a family, making a difference and knowing that God is on your side.” The vision that he cast for making a difference TOGETHER tugged at a deep yearning in my spirit to be a part of something bigger than me. It wasn’t just the thought of doing something that matters, but doing it alongside people I love and believe in.
Yes, we are grabbing hold of God’s promises but those same promises are also grabbing hold of us. The apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12, NKJ) He describes a mutual process which God initiates and we respond to. Even as we are grabbing hold with both hands, God has already reached out His hands to lay hold of our hearts.
And that is what I felt in my spirit on Sunday morning; God grabbing hold of my heart and inserting a “What if Sun City Church…” into my dreams of the future.
The Promise of Fulfillment is the picture of making an eternal difference alongside each other. But that can be a hard thing for us to wrap our hearts around. Logically, it makes sense. Experience tells another story, though.
Here are just a few of the experiences that can keep our hearts from dreaming God’s plan of fulfillment for our lives:
1) People disappointed you
Whether it was leaders or peers, people didn’t follow through with what they committed to or your expectation of what they should do. You put yourself out there and no one met you halfway.
2) It was too complicated
Trying to work with people was like trying to row a boat against the current. You felt like you tried and tried, but at the end of the day, things didn’t get smoother or easier. And that eventually left you alone, shouldering the weight of responsibility by yourself.
3) You didn’t feel like it was worth it
You invested and invested but with little or no return. It wasn’t like planting a garden and getting to reap all the harvest; it was more like someone breaking into your house and stealing all the food from the pantry. At the end of the day, all you had to show for your effort was exhaustion.
4) It was uncomfortable
There were more risks involved than you anticipated. It wasn’t just showing up and performing some tasks; you had to put yourself out there relationally. People expected you to build friendships and invest more than just the couple of hours you signed up to give.
5) Your talents were left untapped
You had more to bring to the table and no one gave you the opportunity to do it. Your dream for your role on the team was left unrealized while others stole the spotlight.
Let’s be honest, joining a team of people to make a difference together is no easy thing. It’s a LOT of hard work. So the question we all want to know is whether it is worth it.
Is it worth the time I would be investing?
Is it worth the energy that I could be channeling other places?
Is it worth working through conflict and offense that will inevitably come?
Is it worth making myself vulnerable again?
Is it worth the stress of being stretched beyond my comfort zone?
Is it worth the patience required before my gifts are realized?
IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?
And to hear the answer, we have to stop and listen. It is the gentle voice of God that wraps itself around our hearts and reminds us that we have so much more to live for than our own selfish ambitions. Our comfort isn’t the highest priority. People recognizing our gifts and contribution won’t truly satisfy us. Even the feeling of success is not as crucial as we would like to believe.
Ultimate fulfillment is truly becoming part of a family and making an eternal difference together. It is laying our head on our pillow at the end of the night and knowing that we are part of something that matters…and being able to share the victories with those who have joined us in that endeavor.
When it stops being about us then we discover satisfaction in areas we never imagined we would. Instead of investing all our energy into getting ourselves ahead, we find joy in helping others unlock their potential. Rather than stockpiling all of our resources into protecting our future, we uncover a passion to give. Everything shifts from an obsession with ourselves to a desire to give away what was first given to us by God. The words of Jesus, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:39, NLT) becomes the portrait of our life. And that is the Promise of Fulfillment realized.