Missionaries are always on my mind

1 Corinthians 9:16-17

“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward.”

Missionaries are always on my mind. Many of you know that son and his family served the Lord in Africa for ten years. I love the story of the old missionary and his wife who were returning home from a lifetime of working in Africa on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt who had been in Africa for a big game hunt. Upon the ship’s landing in New York, of course there was a big “to do” about President Roosevelt’s returning from his hunting trip. There were crowds there to meet him and no one to meet the returning missionaries. The story goes that the old missionary said to his wife, “It doesn’t seem quite right that we gave our whole lives to win souls to Christ in Africa and there is no one to meet us or no reward for our return. A president shoots a few animals and gets a royal welcome.” As they were praying that night, the missionary sensed that the Lord had a very important message for him about their return with no fanfare. The Lord told them “Do you know why you have not received any reward yet? You’re not home.”

When Paul wrote about his service here on earth he was looking forward to his return to his real home, heaven. C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer wrote in The Last Battle about the concept of eternity. He wrote the Chronicles of Narnia a seven book children’s fiction series. On the last page he wrote, “For us this is the end of all the stories…But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world…had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read, which goes on forever and in which every chapter is better than the one before. I am thankful that my life will extend much longer than this short stay on planet earth. Rick Warren says, “God offers you an opportunity beyond your lifetime. The Bible says in Psalm 33:11 ‘God’s plans endure forever; his purposes last eternally.’”

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