My Great Reward: When life takes more than it gives, get refilled

Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,your very great reward. ”Hand and clouds.jpg

19 years ago, I was a single mom with four children, cleaning houses to provide for the kids and trying to figure out what happened to the perfect life I thought I had.  It was during that intensely difficult season where everything I trusted in was stripped away that I learned how to make Jesus my great reward.  In that time of rejection, loneliness and fear, I read the scripture in Genesis 15:1 where God told Abram that He would be his great reward. God Himself was the prize that Abram was being given.

That scripture came alive in me during that lonely season because I was living and breathing what it meant to have Jesus as my prize. Everything that I valued, except my children, was gone. But each morning when I woke up and stumbled down to the coffee maker and grabbed my Bible, I found the most awesome comfort and strength in the personal relationship that I had with Jesus.

If I had read that Scripture previous to this season of devastation, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I would have viewed God alone as the greatest reward.  My heart wanted many things and I didn’t have the maturity in the Lord to understand the surpassing worth of His Presence over anything I could possess or experience.

But during that season of grief, the Lord poured out a grace on me to seek Him and find Him in deep and profound ways. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and be with Jesus. He was the comfort for my rejection, the strength for each new challenge, my wisdom for every decision, and my rock of refuge. There is no way to explain how in the season of my greatest uncertainty and sadness I had the greatest sense of His tangible presence. In that valley I learned that because Jesus is my great reward, I am OK. Everything can be falling to pieces around me, but I am OK because the most important piece can never be stolen from me.

Now flash forward five years.  I’m newly remarried and everything is going great until all of a sudden the sky falls. My husband and I had been enjoying the quintessential honeymoon period, even though our lives were chaotic with a blended family of 6 active children.  We raced around from activity to activity but we were profoundly happy.  We had in each other what we had painfully lacked in our previous marriages that had ended in rejection by our spouses and divorce.

Life was busy but smooth during our first 11 months of marriage until one day a letter came in the mail that we were being sued by my husband’s ex-wife. We had no money to defend ourselves as my husband had recently started a business with two partners and every dime was being invested into the new venture. I was a new worship leader at our church and the adjustment to working part-time, being in ministry full time and raising six children was taxing me beyond belief. Blending a family is a stretch in itself, and we came head-to-head with serious challenges. Our finances were attacked on every front. My ex-husband left the state and dropped out of our children’s lives for a period of a few years.  One of my sons began getting into trouble at school and then with the law. Our children were challenging our authority in the home, especially when it came to church attendance and our belief in Jesus. Then we experienced differences in our parenting styles and struggled to honor and support each other in front of the kids when in private we were in opposition to how the other spouse was handling them.

In one year, our peaceful home had become a battleground and I had to pick up the truth again that Jesus is my great reward.

I had to remind myself, through tears and anxiety, of the truths that I had owned from previous seasons: because Jesus is my great reward, I am OK.  No matter what comes or goes in my life, I am OK. Everything else can go, and it often has, but as long as I have the comforter, my peace, my encourager, my strength, my standby, my defender, my rock, and my refuge, I am OK.  Life hurts sometimes.  Life is unfair sometimes.  Life takes more than it gives sometimes. People come and go. Money comes and goes. But throughout every up and down, I always have a place to run, a place to find correction, direction, strength and love.

Our family came through that difficult season which lasted for quite a few years with more closeness and strength.  Everything the enemy set out to do – ruin our marriage, destroy our faith, break up our new blended family – all backfired.  My marriage is stronger, our finances are stable, our kids know we love them through anything they could put us through and we have a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

The older I get, the more I am aware that life if far less predictable than I thought it would be when I was in my 30’s. I have seen my share of pain. I have caused my share of pain.  There are things in my life that haven’t turned out like I planned – things I am still waiting to see God move and change. There are dreams that are yet unfulfilled and it’s easy to get scared that they never will.  It’s easy to look around and wonder if I’ve made a difference here in my world – if I’ve loved enough, prayed enough, spoken up enough, listened enough.  I don’t have answers for all of the questions, but I have this truth: Because He is my great reward, I am OK.

Now you:

  • Are you in the middle of a season where you need to feel “OK” again? Are things out of kilter, or maybe even spinning out of control?
  • Do you struggle emotionally to keep your head above water when the storms of life rage?
  • Do you know Jesus as your Great Reward?

No matter how devastating the hardships that I have faced, God has always shown me at some point when I was able to see it, how He was working, using the good, the bad, and the ugly situations of my life for my good. Not every situation is good, but God is the ONLY one who can make something valuable out of the “poo” that we hand him as the raw materials.  And in the meantime, while I wait to find meaning, I find Him.  It’s not until you really find Jesus, and all that He brings, that you realize that He truly is your Great Reward.

Turn your heart to Jesus today in all of your pain, disappointment and regret and let Him begin to heal your heart.  He is your safe place to fall.  Because Jesus Himself is your Great Reward, you are going to be OK.  It may not seem it now, but as long as you keep the Main Thing, the main thing, you cannot fail.

Let’s pray:

Jesus, sometimes the situations of my life are so beyond what I ever thought would happen that I feel like You’ve lost touch with what’s happening in my life.  When disaster or trials come, I find myself wondering if you are noticing or if you are letting me suffer. But I ask You, going forward, when things are good and when things are hard,  that You would remind me to come to You – to seek You and to find You as I do so with all my heart. I know that if I can stay connected to You and start my day hearing Your voice, I will have peace.  If I can get my mind set on You, I will have focus and calm in my mind. Lord, don’t let me wander.  Keep me tethered to You! In Your name I pray, Amen.

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