When I was a kid my dad would buy me a box of Cracker Jacks. I loved getting these boxes. It was not for the coated popcorn. It was all for the prize at the bottom of the box! Just that little trinket was worth the box. Sometimes you could get a really good box, and the prize would be there waiting for you on top, but more times than not it was on the bottom, way under all that stuff I didn't like. So, like any good daughter, I would give my popcorn treat to my dad and reach into the bottom off the box for the prize.
Just like today, I would rather hand over what I don't like and just reach in to grab the prize. I am learning to get to the prize I must go through the good and bad. I must endure that popcorn I do not like. I can't just pass it on to another or throw it out. Somehow that is wasting. Even if it is stuff I don't like, there is a purpose to it all. That's why the prize is at the bottom of the box. Once we have gone through whats in the box, it makes it even more special to reach it and take hold of that prize, that one little trinket that brings joy to our heart.
My dad was no fool. He knew his daughter did not like Cracker Jacks, but he bought them anyway. Why? He enjoyed seeing his daughter light up when she got to the prize. Not unlike our heavenly Father, He too loves to see us light up when we receive the prize waiting for us. He too knows we do not like what is in the box, but while we endure what it contains, He has that prize there waiting.
Whats awesome is I got to share that box of Cracker Jacks with my dad. He knew I didn't like those peanuts most of all, so he ate them, leaving me the best part. Our heavenly Father knows what we don't like, and He shoulders that for us. He reaches in and shares that box right along with us. He sees us trying to make it through the box, enduring the time it takes to reach the very bottom. Sometimes in my life, I must go to the very bottom before I really take value of the prize. I am hard headed, stubborn and a slow learner, but God stays there with me. Isn't it just like a spoiled child to not want whats in the box, but only take the prize? Oh, that happens in my walk more times than I can count. I can tell the Lord, "No, I don't like that and I don't want that, but please give me the prize, the blessing anyway." I cannot pick and choose. I cannot just pick out all those things I don't like and grab hold of the good stuff. It's when I go through the whole box, after the box is emptied, all the crumbs are shaken out in my hand that I see the prize for what it is really worth. It is then I can take hold of that blessing and see the price that was paid for it.
Jesus Christ paid the price so that I could find the prize. Life. Abundant life with Him. My prize? Heaven. The cost? The shed blood of Jesus Christ. For all He endured, He did it for me. He is alive in me today so that I too endure. I know with Him I can make it through those things I don't like. Just as my dad once sat next to me, taking all I did not want, leaving me the prize, Jesus Christ is right here with me, seeing me through, cheering me on, handing me a gift far greater than anything I could ever find in the bottom of a box of Cracker Jacks.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me, but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing."
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So, fun to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what is should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."
Romans 5:3-5 "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."