The other day Gates got out the playdough to play with. Later, when he had returned to the basement to play something more physically stimulating like “Throw yourself off the couch and bounce off of the exercise ball” I went upstairs to grab a drink of water. Imagine my surprise to find that he had, with no prompting from me whatsoever, cleaned up and put away all of the playdough and tools. This, quite frankly, was a day to mark down in the history of our family. I went downstairs to immediately reward him with some verbal positive reinforcement. His response after I thanked him for being so responsible was, “Do I get money?” Never mind that we’ve never paid him for chores before, I’m not even sure where the idea came from other than an offhand comment made the other day that if he wanted more money he needed to do some extra responsible things. (Said after he was once again trying to talk Indy into giving over the few coins he had in his bank.) So, apparently he can remember that, but he can’t remember the five times today in which I have already told him when we would eat supper.
Don’t I operate like that sometimes? Don’t we all?
Hey, I spent FIFTEEN MINUTES in prayer today, God. Are you going to make the rest of my day blissful and easy, with peaceful children who will let me do everything that I want to do?
Hey God! I tithed! Now I’m waiting for you to miraculously provide the funds for that new set of dishes I want.
If I do a missions trip to someplace with huge bugs, will you make a publisher contact me out of the blue with an offer for a book deal?
I did what you wanted, now where’s the payoff?
Hebrews 11, the roll call of faith, lists many who acted in faith and obedience to God. Verse 13 reminds us that none of them received the promised reward while they were still alive, only glimpses in the distance of what was yet to come. And I do not think it is any coincidence that the chapter comes rolling towards its close by naming many of the horrific ways in which people had suffered for their faith. In its final verses the author declares:
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39, 40 NIV)
God had planned something better. It wasn’t about the individual and what they did or how great their faith was. The reward comes when God ushers in his Kingdom and we are all made perfect; those who are the patriarchs of the faith and those who follow in the footsteps that they have laid out. Only all together will God’s final masterpiece be complete. Only then will the fullness of his reward be known.