A week or two ago, my son Britton and I went to Keith Hardware in Fort Gibson to purchase a short extension cord with multiple plug-ins for my flowerbed lights and fountains. I stopped off at the front desk and asked Brenda where I could find one. Without hesitation, her eyes glanced up at the ceiling and she said, “Aisle 18!” I was in and out in about five minutes. I am always impressed when this happens at any store because being able to give an answer indicates the person is serious about their job and has invested time memorizing or at least becoming familiar with where things are enough to answer questions.
There are various times in my life when I had to come to grips with the fact that there were no short cuts to becoming good at anything. When I was a student (no matter what grade), I always dreaded when a teacher would call on me to answer a question if I did not know the answer. Many times, it was because I had not studied.
When I was a young television news reporter at KTUL-TV in Tulsa, I always dreaded those instances I had to give a report on topics when I was not fully informed or prepared. As time went on, I learned the value of asking lots of questions, listening to the answers, and being diligent in my research. I learned how to do my job! Eventually, I moved to WVVA-TV in West Virginia, and after a while I was awarded the title of Investigative New Reporter of the Year.
Several years later, when I was called into youth ministry, I was often afraid I might not be able to correctly answer someone’s question about the Bible or about life and how God’s word applies to it. The Bible tells the story of a challenge Jesus faced involving an encounter with Satan.
In Matthew 4, after Jesus was baptized by his cousin John the Baptist, Jesus spent time fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. After 40 days, the devil came to tempt Him, unsuccessfully, even though Jesus must have felt weakened physically from fasting. Each time the devil made a suggestion as to something Jesus could do to make himself happier, Jesus, without hesitation, started His response with the words “It is written.” This is important, not just because it showed Jesus had knowledge of scripture, but because it showed what happens when anyone prayerfully and intentionally allows God and His word to guide their path. Jesus, as a young boy, had spent so much time in scripture, as did all Jewish boys, it was imprinted on His heart, ready for when He needed to give an answer.
As He grew, life on earth was not easy for Jesus. We should not expect to have it any better (John 15:20). It takes determination to maneuver the aisles of life with all its many shelves and products to choose from. Someday, we will answer directly to God for how we lived life. The good news is that because Jesus was successful in overcoming the world (John 16:33), His followers can know we have a reward (1 John 5:13). We can rest assured that eternal life in heaven will be worth the tough choices we must deal with while walking His path (1 John 1:7).
Have a great week!
Barrett Vanlandingham is the Youth Minister at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ. Reach him at (918) 478-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.