Links Daily Devotional

Eyes Looking Forward

“What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:37, NIV)

Tour players know a birdie hole when they see one. Often it’s telegraphed with a sign on the tee that says, “Par 5.” And you can recognize the disappointment on players’ faces when they can’t get the birdie job done on these less difficult holes.

Indeed, Tiger Woods seized the Arnold Palmer Invitational in the 27-hole stretch that ran from Saturday’s opening shot to Sunday’s ninth hole. In that span, Tiger birdied five of the six par-5 holes, often with two-putt ease.

Yani Tseng, who won again Sunday on the LPGA Tour, led the ladies in driving distance in 2011 and had nearly 20 percent more birdies for the season than the next closest player! No wonder she is the world’s most dominant player—she seizes almost every opportunity she sees.

I’ve never seen “staying alert” on anyone’s list of spiritual disciplines. That’s odd, really. Surely, alertness would head most any military commander’s hierarchy of disciplines. And the Bible features plenty of references to watchfulness: a key trait of those who are open to what God is doing in the world and in his people.

In Mark 13, Jesus was speaking of the time of his return. It will come at an hour no one can pinpoint. Yet there are signs to be recognized—false messiahs, catastrophic phenomena, domestic betrayals over the name of Jesus, and the establishment of “the abomination of desolation” in God’s holy place.

But more than the signs that should catch our attention, there is the great reason to be looking ahead: Jesus himself is “coming [again] in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). Our Lord will return.

With Jesus’ return in mind, alertness becomes a powerful discipline. By looking forward to what is coming—especially the most meaningful event of our lifetimes—we find ourselves doing important things over and above trivial tasks. A bride headed toward her wedding day busies herself with the preparatory activities that make even the days before the wedding meaningful. In the same way, as the bride of Christ awaiting his imminent return, we are more likely to fill our calendars with meetings that matter. Our conversations move from chitchat to intentionality. Even our recreation takes on meaning, emphasizing companionship over competition, say.

You see, we often list among our spiritual disciplines these: Bible reading, prayer, meditation, silence or service. But all of these are subordinate to the greater discipline of alertness. They are acts of readiness for the day when Jesus returns and the work we have been doing is put to the test. We want that work to be regarded as gold (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Jeff Hopper

March 27, 2012

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