Former procrastinators, remember being the little girl determined to learn to ride her bike? Over and over again she tries. Skinned knees, torn clothes, hard falls do not deter her. She’s seen the big kids zooming around on their bikes. So cool! So fast! So free! She wants that too. The learning process isn’t fun but the result is very desirable. She focuses on how cool, fast, and free she will be zooming around on her bike.
Have you participated in this conversation? “But I don’t like that medicine! It tastes yucky!” “Do you want to get well and play outside?” “Yes.” “Then swallow this right now.”
One thing that pulls me away from what I ought to do is thinking about the unpleasantness I’ll have to go through to get the thing done. I think about the unpleasant taste of the bitter liquid. I should think about running outside to play.
This relates to asking ourselves the question, what do I want more – to be comfortable in this moment or to soon enjoy the rewards of an accomplishment?
Jesus sets the ultimate example for us. Hebrews 12:2: “‚Ä¶Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus sweat blood as He prayed asking God to spare Him what lay ahead. Yet He surrendered to the Father’s will, suffered beyond our understanding, and gained the prize. He secured our salvation, fulfilled the divine plan, and sits at the right hand of the Father God, exalted on high!
How could He make it through such torture? He did it “for the joy that was set before Him.” He focused on that joy.
In emergency situations we tend to jump in and act. Seeing a struggling swimmer, you dive in without thought of cold water. You snatch a toddler out of the street without looking for something else you’d rather do.
Why? We focus on the end result – a saved life.
Yet in daily situations we delay because we focus on the drudgery or pain we don’t want to go through. Instead we should focus on the end result.
When I complimented our son on carrying a heavy box, he responded, “Why do you think I go to the gym? I work out so I can do things and be useful.” He presses through the daily workout for the joy of serving.
Training the dog. Stringing lights on the Christmas tree. Learning a language. Cleaning the shed. Teaching the kids to put their shoes by the door every night. All these take time and involve pain or inconvenience. Focusing on the benefits that lie ahead helps us press through. Get on the bike and peddle!
Consider a task you face. What is the joy up ahead that you will focus on?