A Life Exhausted for Jesus
The Lord does not promise us a long life. Nor does He promise us a life free from trials. What He does promise His children is a life of abundance (John 10:10), both on this fallen earth, and exponentially more in the next life.
Our abundant life in this temporal realm may not be marked by riches, fame, or ease, but, for those who belong to Him, there is joy in the mundane, and even joy in the trials. We Christians have this joy because of the eternal inheritance that is ours in Jesus Christ.
It seems we often fail to fully experience and appreciate this joy, though. The trials of life, the daily meanderings through this sinful, fallen world, are quick to strip us of our eternal focus. This is why we pray that God, through the enabling power of His Holy Spirit, would strengthen and quicken us for His service while we are here on this earth. It quickly becomes difficult to lose sight of the joy that is ours in Christ when we're busy with His work!
This work for Christ's kingdom does not need to be particularly "radical." It does not require moving to a remote, unknown land, or living on the streets of the inner city. It does not necessitate extreme fasting or 24-hour service in a church building. We serve Christ well when we serve Him within the circumstances in which He has sovereignly placed us. We serve Him among our families, in our workplace, and in our classrooms. We serve Him as we shop or tend to daily duties in the world. We serve Him well by reflecting His grace and joy even when we are enduring an unthinkable tribulation.
So often this is much more easily said than achieved in practice, and even the most mature Christian will wobble in faithfulness to serve Christ well in trying times. Nevertheless, the world is watching, so we pray daily that we would be worthy witnesses and living testimonies to His grace. Worthy, of course, only because of the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to us. Awareness of our own inabilities and His enabling power goes a long way in aiding us in our service to our Lord.
If by excessive labor we die before reaching the average age of man, worn out in the Master's service, then glory be to God. We shall have so much less of earth and so much more of heaven. It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus. —Charles Spurgeon
Most of us anticipate having many years of life during which we may serve Christ. We expect to breathe our last sometime in our eighth decade, thereby allowing us plenty of time to "make up for" those times when we perhaps were poor witness for Jesus. Yet, there is no guarantee that we will reach the "average age of man." Perhaps the Lord has ordained that our last breath will come much sooner. This uncertainty, this lack of control over our own length of days, is what spurs us on to "exhaust our lives for Jesus."
There was a living example of what this phrase meant: a young woman who was a loving wife and a cherished mother and who, most importantly, loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength. This woman's name was Jess, and she has been mentioned here in the past:
There is a young woman—a wife, a mother, a daughter—whose time on this earth may be cut short, from our human perspective. She, like far too many, is fighting cancer. It has been a long battle. She grows worse each day.
Such a schedule would weary the strongest of men, but one can nary imagine what this young woman experiences physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Not only is she fighting a physical battle for her own life, she is fighting that same fight for her two young boys. What mother could endure the thought of leaving her children behind, especially at a young age? What woman would be content to bid her husband goodbye, destined to never live out the Golden Years beside one another?
To God's great glory, this woman is saved. She knows her Savior; she serves her Lord, Jesus Christ. She and her husband both love the Lord and trust in—no doubt lean on—His sovereignty, even in tragedy. They have a loving church family and friends. God has provided richly, yet the physical trial remains.
Several months ago, I asked you to pray for Jess. Many of you responded with sweet concern, and I know that Jess and her family filled your prayers. Thank you.
I find that it is now bittersweet to tell you that this sweet woman passed away in May of this year. Bitter of course, because of the great hole that has been left in the lives and hearts of her family and friends. Sweet—indescribably sweet—to realize that, as her earthly battle ended, she was immediately welcomed into eternity by her Savior.
It's true that many weeks have now passed since the loss of Jess. I waited to announce it here simply for the sake of her family and friends. Though their grief is no doubt ongoing, it seemed best for this outsider to wait a bit before honoring this sweet soul. When I first told you about Jess, I described how she had ministered to me from afar, even though we never met. Her life, as trying and frail as it may have been, particularly at the end, constantly pointed to Jesus. Her selfless spirit and joyful countenance could only have been imparted to her by the Holy Spirit. The smile she wore betrayed a peace that is found only in Christ. Watching from a distance, I can confidently say that Jess exhausted her life for Jesus. What a duty. What a privilege.
Her faith has now become sight. What a joy.
Thank you, Jess, for the genuine faithfulness and love you displayed in this life. I eagerly await the day when we shall meet as sisters in Christ in Heaven.