|Photo by Southerly Clubs 1994|
I had a dream in which my husband Richard and I had been leaders during a long dance workshop that had included many classes, seminars, and performances over the space of several weeks. It was coming to a close and we were excited about the awards ceremony, hoping that we might possibly be selected for special recognition based on the quality of our dancing, choreography, and instruction. But there were so many talented coaches taking part that we knew we were blessed just to be there at all.
When we arrived for the final festivities, we were surprised that there were very few in attendance. Although hundreds of students and about ten professionals had participated in the workshop, this last event only included about a dozen people, seated around a long table in a plush, upscale dining room.
The table was spread lavishly with gourmet delicacies and special chef’s creations, and everything looked delicious! Everyone was dressed in high fashion, glamorous attire, and servers in smart uniforms hovered around the table, eager to fill everyone’s requests.
We hesitated, thinking we must be in the wrong place, because the diners looked unfamiliar. Or maybe it was just that we were accustomed to seeing everyone working hard, not relaxing; wearing dancers’ sweaty practice clothes and not evening wear. Richard and I turned to one another, hoping for some nonverbal sign that we should either sit down or leave. But I couldn’t get a clear read from his expression, and I realized that he also sensed my confusion.
The man sitting at the head of the table, apparently the host, gestured for us to be seated in overstuffed, velvet chairs. “You’re just in time!” he exclaimed. “Doesn’t everything and everyone look wonderful? We were just talking about how you two are going to get top awards for sure. So sit down, relax, enjoy the food and the company, and look forward to collecting your prize!
But far from finding this reassuring, I felt uneasy. Suddenly I heard a great shout and thunderous applause from far down the hall, and I realized that we were indeed in the wrong place, and that by accepting the dinner invitation we had missed the actual closing ceremonies!
As I awoke in a cold sweat, I began to consider the symbolism of the dream. Once we are saved by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we have a time-limited opportunity here on earth to serve Him (John 9:4; James 4:14). There are so many souls to reach for Him, and so few workers to witness, encourage and edify (Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2), but He has placed each of us in unique settings to do just that.
Looking back, we can see that skills we learned, talents we developed, and people we met even before we were born again (John 3:3-8) did not merely happen by chance, but were arranged by our loving Father to equip us for the special ministry opportunities He planned for us (Jeremiah 29:11) even from before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10).
As long as we yield to His perfect plan for our life, as we are instructed and led by the Spirit, He will enable us to complete His amazing mission, opening doors (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8) and providing all that is needed (Philippians 4:14-19). With Him, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)
God’s provision regarding the dance ministry He had planned for Richard and me to share began with the artistic desires for expression He imbued us with before we were born (Psalm 139:13-16). He allowed me to begin ballet at eight years of age and to be exposed to many forms of dance, theatre and the arts, even though I would develop these gifts in secular settings for many years before I was saved.
He brought Richard and me together in an amazing way, and gave Richard athletic ability and the love of dance even though he took his first lesson at age 40, after meeting me! God opened doors to incredible experiences, opportunities, coaching, owning a ballroom for daily practice, working in mysterious ways we did not understand or appreciate at the time, for we did not yet know Him.
We are so blessed that He has allowed us to use our passion to serve Him, expressing His love through dance to reach secular audiences with His Word. And we are equally blessed by the other amazing ministry opportunities He has so graciously extended to us. But are we being good, faithful stewards, or caretakers (1 Peter 4:10; Luke 12:42; 1 Corinthians 4:2), over these blessings? When we see Christ face to face, we will have to account for all that we have done with our life since we were saved (Romans 14:12).
Ministries are not meant for believers to compete with one another for special recognition, but to work together to build God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:1-11). Yet Jesus did not rebuke Peter when he asked what reward he would receive for leaving all behind and following Christ, but instead promised him leadership over the twelve tribes of Israel, and rewards to all the faithful (Matthew 19:27-30).
Through Holy Spirit inspiration, the apostle Paul promised that at the judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10), Jesus Christ will reward us for whatever good works we do in His service after we are born again (John 3:3-8), with the right motive of love for Him and for one another.
These works will withstand the judgment fire and emerge as purified gold, silver, and jewels. But good works, even if done in His Name, will burn up like hay and stubble if we are doing them to satisfy our own desires, such as feeding our pride, self-indulgence, or desire for man’s praise and recognition (1 Corinthians 3:1-12-15).
In the dream, I lost my reward because I got distracted by the earthly pleasures associated with the ministry, and failed to keep my eyes on the true prize. Through our dancing, before and after we were saved, God has granted us many amazing experiences – travel, fellowship, staying in pleasant accommodations, performing at renowned venues, accompanied by talented musicians and orchestras, dressed in beautiful costumes, encouraged by audience members and other artists who took the time to express their appreciation.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying these blessings, for God gave us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). But if our ministry becomes about the fringe benefits, and not about the Prize, we will miss the joy of our true reward! God keeps us on earth after we are saved to serve (Philippians 2:5-8), not to be served, and to die daily to the flesh (1 Corinthians 15:31-34) so as not to grieve or quench the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
We will not lose our salvation, for nothing can separate the believer from God’s love (Romans 8:39), and no one can snatch him or her from the double grip of the hand of Jesus, held securely by the hand of the Father (John 10:28-29), sealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). But we can lose our reward for service by selling out for earthly indulgences, for the kingdom of God is not about meat and drink, but about righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17).
May we not grow too comfortable in our ministries, content with good feelings, fellowship, pleasant surroundings, and recognition by others, that we might not lose our reward and have Him wipe tears of loss from our eyes (Revelation 7:17; 21:4). May we fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7), run the race that is set before us (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1), and press on toward the mark for the prize of our high calling (Philippians 3:14) in Christ Jesus!
It will be well worth all our earthly labor and sacrifice to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21-23; Luke 19:17) – enter now into the joy of your Lord!”
© 2016 Laurie Collett
It is so important to keep our eyes focused on Him. Great post.
Amen, Linda! Thanks for the encouragement and God bless,
Amen to that! God bless, Pam in Norway
The most important thing is to serve the Lord as He instructs us in whatever ministry He has given us. Yes, we have to be careful that we do not place carnal desires before His Spiritual desires for us, as we could be in danger of being given what we ask for but having leanness of soul, as it says in Psalm 106 v. 15 - and who would want that.
I love the way He uses dreams to warn us about what the spiritual enemy would try to persuade us to do.
Thank you for sharing your dream and your encouraging post Laurie.
God bless you.
A number of years ago I attended an evening seminar held at our church hall and conducted by one of our Elders who has long since died. As you wrote here, he too believed that once saved, the Holy Spirit can enhance the natural talents one is born with to be used for the glory of God.
Then on the next day, I called at the home of a long-standing friend of mine who is also my accountant, and I shared with him what was discussed the previous evening. He immediately disagreed, insisting that the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be used in Christian service are supernaturally bestowed after the recipient is converted to Christ and is saved, and has no connection to his natural talents. So I was left wondering who of the two was right.
However, as you might be aware, writing blogs for the glory of God grew from my enjoyment in writing when I was a boy. Back then, I wrote letters to my maternal Grandparents who lived in Italy, as well as to my Aunt and Uncle, who were posted in Germany.
If by writing blogs on the Internet can be glorifying to God, then it's true what our late Elder taught, as with yourself, being closer to Biblical truth.
An excellent post, God bless.
Thanks, Pam! Stay warm and God bless you too!
Amen, Brenda! May we never forget that every good and perfect gift is from above; that He works all things together for good for them who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose; and that He knows what we need before we even ask Him. May we learn to trust and obey Him in all things.
Thank you as always for your insightful comment and encouragement.
May God bless and keep you,
Thank you as always for your encouragement and for sharing your experiences, which help illuminate Bible truth. Part of the controversy you discuss may stem from the confusion of spiritual gifts with natural talents. Scripture does say that spiritual gifts are supernaturally given by the Holy Spirit to each believer at the moment of salvation. But natural talents, like every other good and perfect gift, come from above, bestowed by God on believers and unbelievers alike. Yet I believe that in His foreknowledge, He knew what His perfect plan was for each believer's life, and He gifted each of us who would be saved with talents we could use once we are saved for His glory and to further His kingdom. So in your case, He gave you the natural talent of writing, which you exercised from early childhood, and when you were saved, He gave you the spiritual gifts of teaching and exhortation (among other gifts, I'm sure) so that you could use the talent for writing to spread His Word through your blog. Praise God!
Thanks as always and God bless,
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