“Be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).
MANY OF US MAY HAVE BEEN FAIRLY NAIVE WHEN WE PROMISED THE LORD WE WOULD ALWAYS BE FAITHFUL. We might have “counted the cost” and understood there would be difficulty, but we probably thought the parts of Christianity that weren’t pleasant would at least be exciting, adventurous, and interesting.
Over the long haul, however, many of us find there is an unexpected difficulty that must be met. What started out as an exciting adventure comes to look like drudgery. There comes a day when we have to admit that we are procrastinating the very things that we were so enthusiastic about at first. When we promised the Lord we would do His work, we never knew how tiresome it would become. We never expected it to become uninteresting.
As a writer, I can tell you that something like this happens during the writing of a book. The project starts with great excitement, and the blank page is an exciting challenge. But before it is over, that blank page will have become a most unpleasant sight. The exhilaration of being a “writer” will have vanished, and the whole thing will have come to look like ordinary, tedious work.
But what do we do when our willingness to serve confronts us with the mundane reality of hard work? Reconsider our commitment? Renege on our promise? No, those are simply not options. Paul warned Timothy that he must be prepared to fulfill his responsibilities “in season and out of season.” That means whether it is easy or not, whether it is exciting or tedious, whether it makes you happy or unhappy. And frankly, what we do about that says much about our character. Do we have what it takes to keep going?
Lifelong faithfulness to the Lord is like most other worthy endeavors: the battle is won or lost by how we deal with the ordinary things. It is not the mountaintops of exaltation that save us or the valleys of despair that defeat us. Instead, our destiny is usually determined by how we respond on the days when there was nothing very positive or negative to deal with, just a lot of work to be done. In the end, being “dedicated” enough to go to heaven comes down to rolling up our sleeves and putting our hand to the plow.
“Faithfulness is consecration in overalls” (Evelyn Underhill).