Paul knew that the prize was at the finish line. So often we want the prize now—as we run along the way.
I heard a true story about an elderly missionary couple who had spent their entire adult lives on the mission field. They had paid a heavy price with regard to their health and their family, but they stayed the course. The time came for retirement. It was in the days when missionaries went away and returned by boat.
When they had left England at the beginning of their missionary career, the platform at Euston Station had been packed with friends and church people, who gave them a grand send-off. A band played hymns and the group of believers prayed and sent them on their way with flags flying. It was a fabulous memory. Now they were sailing home after a lifetime of faithful work.
There was a celebrity on board, and when the boat came into the harbor, they could see that the dockside was crowded with people. Banners were flying, and the band was playing. They watched as the gangplank was lowered, searching the crowd for the mission welcoming committee. The celebrity was welcomed with due pomp and circumstance, and then it was over, and the rest of the passenger’s began to disembark. Still the two old servants of the Lord searched the dock. They didn’t see one familiar face.
Unfortunately, the dates had gotten mixed up, and the reception had been mistakenly set for the following day. Of course, the two old-timers had no way of knowing this. So there they were, standing alone on the dockside with their trucks and all their worldly goods. They sat on their trunks and cried. They had come home to this? As they sat there holding onto each other, bewildered and hurt beyond measure, the husband said, “Let’s be quiet and try to hear what God is saying.” So they held each other right and stood in the Lord’s presence on the quayside, oblivious of the activity around them. The old man opened his eyes, and they were shining. “Darling,” he said, “God spoke to me. He told me, ‘You’re not home yet.’”
They began to laugh—a great, glad joy-laugh. It wasn’t over yet. There was still time to serve the Lord. There were people to encourage and candidates to train and send out in their place. One day the band would be out, and the Lord would be on the quayside of heaven to welcome them home—but not yet, and not now. They picked up their things and set off for the train station, light of heart, to finish their journey to the village where they would live.
Just Between Us Magazine