I struggle with this word reward and it’s meaning. I’ve known it all my life. Work hard and you are rewarded generously. The disease of production that was taking over my life was fueled by reward. I don’t totally use this word negatively. When someone’s life is changed because of something you did or created or was a part of- that is a worthy reward.
Reward for me became seeing lives changed. The harder we worked, the more stories of transformation were told, and this was a great great reward. Until it wasn’t anymore and the stories don’t seem to rev your engine quite as quickly. I was quickly becoming overtaken by fears and worries, doubts and struggles, comparisons and burnout.
I was reading again in Genesis today and was struck by the words of the Lord in Genesis 15. To summarize, Abram has left his family of origin and taken his wife, servants and those in his camp to a new land that the Lord has commanded him to go. When they arrived Abram lied to the King and said Sarai was his sister so the King would not kill Abram and take his wife from him. The Lord forgives him for lying and delivers them from harm once the King finds out Sarai is his wife. Lot, Abram’s nephew decides to part ways, and settles in territory that is filled with wickedness. The Lord then leads Abram and 300 trained men from his family into the battlefield at Sodom to rescue Lot, his family and others. It is clear- the Lord is on mission and leading the way for Abram.
As I read Abram’s story in Genesis, I think what a wild ride. I wonder what it must have felt like for Abram to leave his father’s household and the land he grew up in. What his family must have thought of him and his wife as they set off to follow the voice of the Lord. I think of the real life and death situations Abram was placed in and the courage he displayed as he let the Lord be his guide. I think of the mistakes he made and the shame he could have felt when he lied to the King to save he and Sarai’s life and how our generous Lord protected them, forgave them and continued to lead them on the path he had already marked out for the man who he found worthy to be the father of a new nation, a new people, God’s chosen people.
And in the beginning of Genesis 15, God says these 13 words in a vision to Abram.
Do not be afraid, Abram,
I am your shield,
your very great reward.
In those 3 words I hear the Lord speaking directly to my soul, in 3 powerful ways that shatter my old patterns of thinking and living.
- Do not be afraid. What do we have to fear? Our future? What tomorrow will bring? Our health? Our children’s futures? Friendships, community? We do not need to be afraid of today, what happened yesterday or what is coming tomorrow. HE word is clear- he is with us wherever we go. We don’t have to wait until Heaven!
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
- I am your shield. He is the great protector. He will protect you and me, quite possibly and most definitely not in the ways our earthly minds would prefer but according to His plan and his will which we can most certainly trust in.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
- He is our very great reward. We get to experience relationship with the trinity here on earth. What a treasure to have an everlasting relationship with our Creator that is for right here and right now! We don’t have to wait until eternity and we don’t need some earthly reward to tell us we are enough. We ARE enough to our Heavenly Father.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. Luke 6:23a
Where are you struggling today to see God? Are you afraid? Do you feel vulnerable and unprotected or taken advantage of? Are you worried about your rewards and what you are working for?
Me too, but we can throw this heavy yoke of doubt and worry off of us and take on that of our King, who says so graciously that if we walk with him and work with him we will learn the rhythms of grace and learn to live freely and lightly without anything heavy or ill-fitting around our necks. (Matthew 11:28-30)
I am praying for you and me to claim the truth that we need not be afraid today because the Lord is both our Shield and our Reward.