Many of you remember the biblical account of Isaac’s two sons, Esau and Jacob. The two boys were born into a lineage of powerful promise. God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land, and that from his line would come the Savior of the world.
When you looked at the two boys, you didn’t see much to inspire you. Esau didn’t look the part of promise. He probably needed an image consultant. He was a large, hairy man. A man of appetites. He was a hunter and held the right of the firstborn.
Jacob, his younger brother looked even less likely to be the candidate of promise. He was not a warrior, but a man of the tents, more like an accountant or a similar profession. From birth, he was called a “trickster”. His character lacked the fiber to be used by God.
Yet, one of these two boys would be included in the line of people that would be identified with God. Their name would be breathed for centuries with His: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and……”
Both of the two boys would enter the crucible of testing. The one who successfully endured the test of character would be the inheritor of the promise of God.
Just like these two boys, God wants to take you from where you are to the place of joy and authority. In between, is the greatest test of your life. Thank God, you will not be the first traveler on this path.
In fact, this is the normal pathway of God’s leading. You, at your current existence – yonder – the reality of authority and joy, and in between, shame and death to self.
But, as you approach this pathway, let me give you a word of encouragement. That’s right, encouragement. This pathway is the pathway of His children. This pathway is the pathway to discipleship. That which is illegitimate and weak in faith will not make it all the way through.
And, you must remember that this pathway, although challenging, is the pathway of love. God’s love prepared the pathway. Once you have walked this way, you will come to understand that love is its theme.
As you walk this road, remember these things:
- Treat hardship you encounter as discipline.
You have no choice as to whether you will face hardships in life, but you do have a choice as to how they will mold you. Your hardships can make you bitter at God or they can make you more like God. Bitter or better, it’s your choice. A sword is made sharper by filing it down to a cutting edge. Without discipline, you cannot be a disciple.
Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
- Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Sprints are over quickly. You give it all you’ve got for a short time and then you can stop. Well, life is not over quickly. That’s why the writer of Hebrews tells us to “Run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Sprints require speed, marathons require stamina. You must make up your mind that you are going to finish your course and outlast the enemy of your soul. Satan will try to wear you down. Be in good spiritual shape. Pray and read. There is no other way.
- Consider the outcome of your faith.
A runner always sees himself finishing the race in his mind before he ever gets to the finish line. You must do the same. You must see the joy you will experience when you finish. You must see yourself being given the victor’s crown. You must see yourself becoming more like Christ. The runner in this race will have every motive for running tested. Those running for love will have their name associated with God: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and You!
The book of Hebrews says that we are watched in this race by witnesses. These witnesses have three things in common:
They watch from a:
Historical perspective – they are spectators at our race.
Legal perspective – they are there to attest to the outcome.
Ethical perspective – they have proven themselves.
They watch to see if we will become an Esau or a Jacob. Will we sell our promise for a single bowl of stew or will we wrestle with God until He changes our walk and our name?