It's not a marathon, it's a season
I was thinking the other day about how we live our lives trying to fulfill our purposes and do what we think God wants from us and all that good stuff. And I was thinking about how nice it will be to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
I had heard that Bible verse before and I thought it sounded nice and encouraging so I looked it up. Once I read that verse in its context, however, it took on an entirely new meaning.
“Well done my good and faithful servant” is found in Matthew 25 when Jesus tells the parable of the loaned money. And while it's an encouraging thing and a form of praise, it’s also a whole lot more.
You see, when the master gave money to each of his three servants, he was trusting them to use it wisely. Two of them invested it and doubled the money, the other just buried it so it wouldn’t get lost, stolen, or spent. After some time, the master returned and checked in with the servants. They reported what they had done and to the two who had doubled their money, he replied, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
It even uses and exclamation mark. I love when the Bible does that.
And to the guy who just buried his money, the master said, “You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could’ve gotten interest on it.”
There’s even another exclamation mark…but I assume it is an angry one.
When the master said, “Well done my good and faithful servant,” he didn’t just stop there. He decided to give that guy more responsibility.
As I thought of that verse, I was hoping it would be more of a good-job, mission-complete kind of statement. But it really isn’t. It’s more like a pep talk at half time of a basketball game.
I imagine it would be like hearing a coach say, “Great, you scored 15 points and we’re winning…now keep that up and help your teammates score some baskets too.” But isn’t it so much easier just to hear “Good job” and take a break? Isn’t it so nice to know that you’ve done what you were supposed to do and now the job is done? But that’s not the way this goes.
Lately I’ve been looking to just hear God say, “Well done my good and faithful servant” with the idea in mind that I could just rest. That I could stop. I was thinking there’d be this place I’d finally get to and I could just settle into that role and I’d be all set. Or I at least want to have some definitive end in mind that I can strive for.
Like with track, for example. I’ve found my event, I’m doing all the training and taking care of “the little things” and I’m improving in my races. I thought that’d be enough. But instead, God says, “Good job. You did it. Now just keep doing what you’re doing and help others do it too.”
My reward for hard work is…well, more hard work? Maybe I'm feeling this way just because I wish to see results that mean I've achieved something. But there's always more room to grow. There are always more achievements to be had.
But stopping is not life. That’s not leadership or living on purpose. I mean, look at Jesus. The guy died and He still wasn’t done. He still came back to take on more responsibilities.
I don’t think we were ever made to reach a finish line. I think once we die we’ll be done, but as long as we’re still living, we’ve still got work to do. And the more work we do, the better and stronger we’ll get. The better we get, the more we can be trusted with and we’ll be handed more responsibilities. And honestly, I didn’t love that idea at first.
I am a runner and so I run races. And I know that every race has a finish line, even those 50-mile crazy races. I think I’ve come to come to expect that in life too. I expect to reach a finish line at some point.
And they said life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. But like I said, even the long races have finish lines.
So maybe life isn’t a marathon. Maybe it’s just one huge long track season and in that season we run a series of races, each with their own finish lines. And with each race we get stronger, better, and smarter and we hear our Master say, “Well done…now here’s more. On to the next!”
It’s up to us to toe each new start line with anticipation and pride knowing that we’ve been entrusted with more. We’ve been blessed with another chance to be more and to do more and make a greater impact.
If we take that approach to each race, and we run each race with passion and good effort, I think we’ll finish our seasons well. And that’s when we’ll hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You can rest now.”