Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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Professional tennis star-a nun. What? Sounds like two different stories doesn't it? In this case, it's the same life story. Andrea Jaeger first picked up a tennis racket at the age of eight. By 14, she was a tennis pro. Soon she was challenging tennis greats like Chris Evert and Tracy Austin; she was ranked number two in the world. Then came a serious shoulder injury that required seven surgeries and she was forced to retire. She took her prize money, she moved to Colorado, and started a charitable foundation that helps sick, abused, and at-risk children. So she became an Episcopal nun, and she was actually burying her life in a ministry to needy children. According to USA Today, after her injury she was told, "Your life's over. You've failed. You'll never amount to anything." Oh, were they wrong. The article on her new life concluded this way: "Her name will never be etched on Grand Slam hardware, but she can live with that. 'It's like I have kids' names in my heart,' and she says, 'That is life's trophy.'"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Do."
Priorities. They keep getting jumbled, don't they? Stuff that really matters slips to the edges, and stuff that really doesn't matter much fills up our life. Until something happens that reminds us what really matters; like a tragedy, a funeral, or some kind of wakeup call. There was a little saying I heard so many times as a teenager that I think I became immune to it. But it's still packed with truth that can give you the most significant, most satisfying life possible. It simply says, "Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last."
A tennis pro turned angel of mercy said the trophy she wants for life is those "names in her heart." The Apostle Paul was thinking like that when he penned our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. He's looking ahead to eternity where only things that last forever will survive. He said to the people he had introduced to Jesus Christ, "What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." See, Paul had names in his heart; the names of people who were going to be in heaven because he loved them enough to tell them about Jesus.
I hope you have names like that. Do you? There's something so much more important than a championship, or a scholarship, or a business accomplishment. And that's the people who will be in heaven forever because you introduced them to your Jesus. We pour out so much of our life-energy into things that won't last. But the people you work with every day, go to school with every day, recreate with, live around; those are people who will live forever in heaven or hell. For some, you are God's designated rescuer, positioned in their life by Jesus to be their hope of knowing about Jesus. And it starts when you allow God to burn in your heart the names of people He wants you to reach. You carry those names in your heart all day, every day. You pray for those names in your heart every day. You ask God for open doors to tell them about Jesus. You look for those open doors, and you go through them when they open.
The great legacy of your life will be the names you carry in your heart. Because when you rescue someone spiritually, that name in your heart is written by God in His Book of Life in heaven. And you can't do anything more important or more lasting than that.
The prophet Daniel tells us about the two groups of people we will see on Judgment Day: "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." Then he explains the part you could play in helping to change someone's eternal address: "Those who lead many to righteousness, (will shine) like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Now, that is a life that matters.