Word of the Week

When you were a kid and you did something good, would you ask for extra tv or video game time? Would you want ice cream? Or a toy? In modern times, it hard to think of teaching or parenting kids without some use of our word for the week: reward.

Reward: a thing given in recognition of one's service, effort, or achievement.

In my house, with small kids underfoot, I often think of this word now in terms of our candy bucket we keep above the refrigerator for when homework is finished. Or I think of the kids summer reading program at the local public library with prizes at every tier completed. Or I think about all the apps I have on my phone that earn me rewards if I eat a certain amount at a restaurant or shop so much at a clothing store.

The hope of a reward in the end can motivate us to make particular choices, right?

But, rarely do I think of rewards in terms of the spiritual work of my life.

Recently, though, I started noticing the rewards of my life that came from the good/ hard things I'd been through, and all the soul work I put in to learn from these experiences.

For isn't it true, your life is a series of events that build on each other. The blessings of today were birthed in the preparation and prayers of yesterday. Or simply put from the Biblical concept (see Galatians 6): you reap what you sow.

For example: are you making a living with a job you enjoy? Well, then you are reaping the rewards of your vocational training and education.

Are you enjoying meaningful friendships? Well, then you are reaping the rewards of the courage you had many months or years to open your heart to someone new.

Are you enjoying retirement on your own terms? Well, then you are reaping the rewards of the faithfulness to work that you completed.

There is always something to be grateful for, even if things aren't not as they once were and even if you see the brokenness around you of the many problems in the world. Life can always offer you the gift of rewards, if you see it with this perspective.

But, I be remiss if I didn't add this: it's always good to remember that not any of us are an island of achievement. Our lives can easily be rewarded by privileges that have nothing to do with our actions. Our race, our socioeconomic status or our country of origin may have moved us to the front of the line to enjoy more than our share. So, let us not insert the word "reward" into sentences where "privilege" really should be.

But, thinking of your life in terms of its rewards is helpful because it births in you gratitude. And it can remind you to sow things now that you want to reap in the future.

So, here's your friendly spiritual reminder to enjoy and spend some time just naming "the rewards" in your life. I bet you'll be so grateful you did.

As for me, know I am so glad you are on the journey with me each Sunday in these messages-- I feel so much gratitude about that.