Reaching the goal
When concerns about earthly goals arise, we remember that Jesus already accomplished reaching the goal of our faith: the salvation of our souls.
Jonathan P. Bilitz
Take a deep breath. Okay, let it out. One more time—inhale deeply . . . and exhale. Do you ever use this relaxation technique?
For many college students, anxiety marks this time of year. Final exams have arrived or lurk around the corner. Late nights of studying, deep breathing, extra coffee—all of these can be ways students cope with the end of a semester and the tests that accompany the finish.
How do you cope? Some students set parameters for themselves. “I will be in bed by 1:00 a.m.” “I am going over all the material three times and then calling it good.” “I am going to eat a healthy breakfast before the test.” The bottom line is that students want to have successful results on the exams they take. Successful test results mean a degree that translates into a profession and provides work with both joy and income to live.
Maybe that is why final exams have pressure attached to them. The future might depend on the results!
Semester exams can serve as a picture of the trials God’s people experience this side of heaven. Peter knew the struggles that Christians face. But Peter also had seen Jesus. As one of the Lord’s disciples, he was an eyewitness to Jesus’ teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection. Those who received his letters did not experience that same benefit. And neither have we.
So Peter provides this encouragement, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8,9). We don’t see Jesus with our physical eyes, but we love him because he first loved us. His love fills us with joy that is beyond words. Not only do we have a peace that calms our weary and anxious hearts, but our lives have direction!
A deep focus on the tasks in front of us might cause us to lose sight of our goal. We become engrossed in what we can see, what we can touch, what we can hold. Yet what we cannot see truly brings joy. The goal of our faith—the salvation of our souls—is complete. The perfection of heaven awaits.
Did you happen to notice that Peter uses a present-tense verb? “You are receiving the end result of your faith.” Our goal is so certain that the Bible tells us it is already ours. Jesus finished the payment; he burst forth from the grave. Your eternal goal is accomplished through Christ.
Then what about our earthly goals? What about the trials we experience? What about the anxiety we feel when preparing for and taking exams? Jesus invites us to cast anxieties on him (1 Peter 5:7). He promises that he has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). He reminds us that nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:37-39). Jesus assures us that we are never alone (Hebrews 13:5).
When concerns about our earthly goals arise, we remember that reaching the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls, has already been accomplished by Jesus. Paul reflected, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
So take a deep breath and let it out. Jesus has got this.
Jonathan Bilitz is pastor at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel, Madison, Wisconsin.
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Author: Jonathan P. Bilitz
Volume 106, Number 5
Issue: May 2019
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