Matthew 19:30 reads, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
Years ago I was traveling with my mom and daughter along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We were on our way to our family reunion which was being held in Philadelphia. At some point, we came to a stretch of road on the turnpike that was lined with dead trees. The strange thing about it, was that although the trees on the front row were all dead, immediately behind them, as far as the eye could see, were beautiful, vibrant, healthy green trees. However, these lifeless trees on the front row, stood very tall and erect almost as if they possessed an inner confidence. Because of the green background behind them created by the other trees, they appeared to stand out even more. Odd as it may seem, even though these trees were dead, they were still very much alive. They had a mysterious beauty radiating from them that drew attention to their presence.
As I continued to observe this peculiar scene, God brought to my mind these words, “The first will be last and the last will be first.” I have no idea what natural events may have occurred that caused those trees to end up like they were, but to me they represent many people who may not measure up to the world’s idea of beauty. But because they follow God’s ways He has elevated them to a certain level. Like those trees, you never know what someone may have endured to get to where they are, but because they did endure, they are where they are, and they are highly favored by our God who put them there. Never underestimate what God is doing in someone’s life just because things appear a certain way on the outside. As Christians we should have an inner beauty that radiates from our hearts and changes the world around us. People should be able to sense a distinct difference and want to know more about us and our lifestyles. Ultimately who we are should lead people to want to know more about the God we serve.
Those of us who call Jesus Savior, need to take a stand and be all that God has called us to be for the sake of the cross and the glory of the One who died there. 2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord, then I will receive you.”
If those trees could speak, I know the stories about life on the “Penna” Turnpike would be unforgettable. The good news is that you and I can speak. We can speak life to those around us. Not only with our words, but through our actions. We must let the life we live speak for us. Ask God to show you how you can “come out from among them and be separate.” When you are serving God, even if you think you are last, in God’s eyes you are first. We need to make sure that wherever we are standing, is the place God really wants us to be. When we are where we should be, we can then be effective and make a true difference.
Please let the beauty we have in you through your Holy Spirit shine brightly so that those around us may be inspired and changed. Help us not to get caught up in things that do not matter but instead to focus on what matters most to you.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.