Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Perfect Attendance

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
And The Award Goes To…
This week I was blessed to attend the award ceremonies for my younger two children’s 2017-2018 academic school year.  Both Benjamin and Sydney received accolades of achievement for high grade point averages for the year.  
The academic achievement award that I always esteemed to receive though wasn’t the “A” or even the “A-B” honor roll…it was the Perfect Attendance award.  Yes, I knew that it was important to make straight A’s, and if not, then A’s and B’s would be stellar; and they didn’t give college scholarships for perfect attendance.  But I always esteemed the kids who never missed a day of school. How remarkable would that have been, I thought.  But it seemed like every year, our family of four kids would get hammered by some flu bug or stomach virus that would lay us all low for two or three days and it would be done.  
Perfect Attendance…Really, all you must do is show up every day for the whole nine months of school and you win the recognition.  Yet in 13 years, Kindergarten through Senior year graduation, I never had perfect attendance.  My friend Holly Harmon had perfect attendance just about every year!  I marveled at that.  I asked her “How do you do it? Never getting sick!” to which she replied: “Who said I was never sick? Unless you were puking your guts up…you went to school!  We’d be like – ‘Mom, I have a fever of 101’…and Mom would say ‘You’re fine.  Take these Tylenol and go get on the bus.  You’re going to school…’”  You just show up…no matter what.  Now, that’s a bit different isn’t it.

“80% of Success in life…”  
“…is just showing up.”Woody Allen has been credited with this quote since he first made the statement in 1977.  We really do have to finish the mental mathematics here though.  If 80% of success is showing up, then that last 20% must contain something very unique, something very important, something elemental and irreplaceable for success to occur.  If we take all of this and place it around our Christian faith, we can’t simply surmise that success in the Christian walk is simply showing up.  But the mathematics are quite similar here as well, because we can’t simply say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” and that’s the end of it.  Certainly, showing up as a believer in Christ is a very important part of our lives, but it mustn’t stop there.  
It has been speculated that Woody Allen’s quote may well have been a derivative of a Thomas Edison quote: “ninety per cent of a man’s success in business is perspiration.” In 1869 Fanny J. Crosby wrote her hymn “To The Work” and in 1871 set it to music written by W. Howard Doane.  Crosby’s words not only reflect a work ethic that is largely unknown to contemporary times, but also an urgency for the work of Christ that the body of Christ would do well to rediscover:

“To the work! To the work! We are servants of God;
Let us follow the path that our Master has trod;
With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew,
Let us do with our might what our hands find to do.
Toiling on, toiling on,
Toiling on, toiling on,
Let us hope and trust,
Let us watch and pray,
And labor till the Master comes.

To the work! To the work! Let the hungry be fed;
To the fountain of life let the weary be led;
In the cross and its banner our glory shall be,
While we herald the tidings, “Salvation is free!”
To the work! To the work! There is labor for all;
For the kingdom of darkness and error shall fall;
And the love of our Father exalted shall be,
In the loud swelling chorus, “Salvation is free!”
To the work! To the work! In the strength of the Lord,
And a robe and a crown shall our labor reward,
When the home of the faithful our dwelling shall be,
And we shout with the ransomed, “Salvation is free!””

So, it would seem, that Perfect Attendance in this Christian work and walk is not simply a matter of believing in Christ Jesus unto salvation, and just showing up in life, but remembering that showing up in the Christian life also means to “Take up thy cross and follow me.”…as said Jesus in Matthew 16:24.And this is not said to suggest any “works salvation” misunderstanding.  We are yet “saved by grace through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast.”Clearly spoken by Paul in Ephesians 2, verses 8-9.We each of us desire that praise at the end of this life when we will stand before our Lord and hear him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Oh Lord Jesus, quicken our hearts and strengthen our hands as we long to serve you this day.  Particularly if we have misunderstood our role and responsibility as your disciples, put us to the work, and let us bring in great harvest for you!  In your name I pray, Amen.

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