A Winner Either Way

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…” (Psalm 23:4a, NASB)

I stood in my backyard with my cellphone pressed to my ear. As I listened to the familiar ring on the other line, I tried to think of something comforting to say to my friend. His trips to the oncologist had been on the top of my prayer list for weeks. I was calling to check on him.

After a few rings, he answered. The report was not good. The cancer was back and growing at a rapid pace and his doctors were at a loss. All the comforting words I had considered sharing took flight like startled doves on opening day of hunting season. All I could mutter was that I was sorry. So, sorry. 

At that moment, I might have grown angry with God for not answering my prayers had it not been for the resolve I heard in my friend’s voice. He said, “Brother Kevin, I don’t want to die. I want to stay here with my family, but I’m a winner either way.” Those words struck me with such force. Shocked, I marveled at his faith.

Before praying and ending the call, he shared with me how his cancer diagnosis was a blessing. I thought, how could cancer be a blessing? He then shared how his realization of his own mortality led him to faith in Christ. Here I was, the “trained” pastor, and a recently converted man, was showing me what true faith looked like. 

My friend knew what King David knew. God was with him. Both men had experiential knowledge of God walking with them through the darkest valleys. Both knew if God was on their side, they were a winner either way. The Shepherd of their souls would see them safely home. 

Are you afraid of death? Tertullian, a third-century theologian, concerning death, said, “It is a poor thing to fear that which is inevitable.” We are all dying. The difference between my friend and most of us today is he had an estimated timeline. However, we can have the boldness that my friend possessed.

How? Paul writes, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39). The flock of God has the Good Shepherd’s promise of victory. Regardless of what you’re facing, you can be a winner either way. Trust in Christ. 

Be Like the Bee

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

(Colossians 3:23, KJV)

I sipped my coffee and savored the solitude of my backyard. I sat listening as the early birds chirped and warbled. Their chorus signaling the dawn of a new day. God’s mercies renewed. I rested in my lawn chair, flanked by privets that needed pruning three seasons ago, soaking in creation’s song of praise. Humbled by all the surrounding glory, I whispered a heartfelt prayer.

My offering of thanks was fresh on my lips, when I heard buzzing coming from the bushes. I then spotted several bees and sensed God sharing a truth through these little insects. Like Edward Taylor, that Puritan poet, I looked for the deeper meaning in these winged object lessons. The bees’ feverish labor caused the tiny white blossoms to plummet like staccato raindrops. I considered how they never grow weary of their God-given vocation of pollination. Scientists say one of three bites of food comes from the honeybees’ pollinating prowess. In short, without these insects, the vine would bring no fruit and our grocery store shelves would be barren. But who takes notice of them? Hardly anyone. But bees, like the ones in my backyard, bring glory to God by their small actions done in obscurity.

Be like the bee.

These words surfaced in my mind as I watched them buzz along. Immediately, I understood God was speaking concerning the Christian life. As Christians, we can learn a lesson from them. They never stop their work to consider its significance. They simply float from flower to flower in faithful submission to God’s commandment. Bees are content with the process of pollination. It’s what they do. They work heartily as to the Lord. If we are not careful, we can view our everyday tasks as trivial obstacles to be overcome, instead of moments to be embraced.

Like the bees pollinating the world, instead of flower by flower, we can work task by task, job by job, for the love of the Lord and glorify God with our labor. More than likely, we will not understand the full impact we have on others with our work. How could we measure the reach of our efforts on this side of eternity? We cannot. It’s not for us to know. We must trust God to sew our small offerings into His overall tapestry of glory. When we consider our labor, let us take a lesson from the honeybees.

And be like the bee, happy, content, and faithful to the work, even when no one notices. God notices. Who else can know the fruits of our labor?

Because of His Mercy

“Because of His Mercy” by Kevin W. Bounds  – Romans 12:1-2 (March 19, 2017)

This sermon originated from the pulpit of West Green Baptist Church in West Green, Georgia where Kevin Bounds serves as Senior Pastor. Did you enjoy the message? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, please feel free to like and share with friends and family.