win-win? lose-win?

The news rang through the house… such sweet, sweet words… “Kids! There’s a two hour delay!”  Shutting off alarms, and rolling over in their warm beds they headed back to sleep. I settled in on the couch, dozing as I watched the morning news.

[I could get use to this.]

A couple of hours later, the kids having crawled from their cocoons are sitting drowsily with me. The morning news has rolled over into the “Today” show, which was celebrating its 60th anniversary. Together we watched snips and clips from times far gone. The people, places, and things that made the news…  as well as the people, places, and things that made the news fun. Amongst the fond memories and blooper reels were serious moments as each of the previous hosts talked about things that impacted them most during their tenure in the Today show chair.

The kids watched, and laughed, and grew serious- all at just the right moments. They were familiar with many of the news stories that were mentioned- the death of John Lennon (and how it made Jane Pauley cry), 9/11 unfolding on live television (and how it made the nation cry), the first “Royal Wedding” (and how our fascination with the Royals intensified)...

And then Katie Couric shared the story that changed her the most… interviewing the father of Isaiah Sheols and brother of Rachel Scott just  twelve hours after the tragedy at Columbine happened. It was strange to me, as I watched from my couch, after all of the emotional stories that had already been touched on… this is the one that caused unexpected tears to spring to my eyes. 

“What is this about?” came Tali’s question, it was a news story unfamiliar to her.  Tears in my eyes I recounted the story of the two boys who showed up to their school with guns… I also shared the story of the young Rachel Scott whose legacy impacted my own life in a profound way. This girl who, being challenged by the boys to renounce her faith refused to do so, and was killed.

Silence hung in the living room for a few moments. I wiped away tears. The kids stared at the television. What great sacrifice. What a beautiful example of a sold out life.  

And then, Tali’s little voice broke through the silence, resolve in her voice, perhaps even a bit of defiance, “If I was ever in that situation, I would do the same thing. Because that’s a win-win. No, really it’s a lose-win, because here you can’t see Jesus face to face…”   For the next few minutes, she attempted to work through this thought… which is it? Is it a win-win? Is it a lose-win? Which is better?

I was surprised by her words. The love she has for Jesus… that above all things, she wants to be with Him. If only more could get a hold of this kind of love. This kind of trust. Knowing that He is the only One that matters. I had no response for her. No answer to her quandary. She was lost in her own thoughts... I lost in mine...

Immediately Paul’s words came to mind… “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body…” [Philippians 1:21-24]

The Apostle Paul wrestled through this same question. Ah, to depart, that is better by far- for you will be with Christ. But to stay… that means more chance to do His work, to labor for Him!  It is because of this confidence, confidence that no matter what He trusts God’s will, if that is to keep him here, or bring him into eternity… it’s going to be okay. Better than okay…

That’s having your eyes on Jesus. That’s being focused on the One worthy of our trust. That’s a life that is willing to go wherever He calls. And that, when faced with danger, holds fast in our faith.  The Apostle Paul is a beautiful picture of this kind of trust… trust that enabled him to find contentment, despite the circumstance. To speak words that would bring a price upon his head.  To challenge unhealthy practices within growing churches.  To go where God told him to go, and stay where God told him to stay.

That’s what a life lived for an Audience of One looks like. 

It’s a heart that says “Whatever you will, God… that’s what I want… Whatever you dreamed me to be, Father… that’s what I want… Whatever you have purposed for my family, Lord… that’s what I want…

It’s a heart that lives to hear those sweet, sweet words… “Well done, good and faithful servant”…

It’s a heart that lives to love Jesus, no matter the cost.

It’s a heart that lives to know Him, and make Him known.

But instead, human nature is to look to one another for those things. To look to our husbands for affirmation. To look to our children for unconditional love. To look to our jobs for success. To look to our bank account for security.  And then, where are we… when those things fail. When our spouse’s prove that they are just failed humans too. When our children’s spit in our face and choose the world. When our job ends. When our finances fail.

He is the only one who will never break our heart. He is the only one who will NEVER turn His back. He is the one who is unending. He is the one who can not fail… He is the only Audience worth living for! He is the only Audience worthy of our adoration and praise! He is the only one who can complete us! In the end, He is the only Audience whose opinion matters!

Yet so often, we ignore the call of God to go, to say, to do… because we fear what man will say. What our spouse will say, or friends, or coworkers, or pastors, or family. Under so much less pressure than Rachel Scott, we deny Him, maybe not in our words, but in our action, in our lives, in our disobedience. She was under the threat of death and clung to Him, yet we will deny Him under the threat of a disapproving look, or fear of failure, or being “the only one”…

[I do it too]

And what is the cost of this kind of life? What is the cost of living life out of fear? Looking to man instead of God… playing to any audience other than the Audience of One? What is the cost? One day, we will find ourselves standing before God… and we will be like that servant who given one talent, hid it. The master was not pleased.

[I don’t want to be that guy]

One of the deepest longings of my heart is to some day hear “well done, good and faithful servant”.  The mere thought of it, causes tears to well in my eyes. What a beautiful moment that will be! This is the longing of any lover of Jesus, to know that we have served Him well, loved Him well. Friends, we can only hear these words if we learn to play to the Audience of One here on earth. If we learn to set aside the fear of man in exchange for the glory of God.

Rachel Scott lived for an Audience of One. Reading through her journals, it is obvious that she was just a little girl, faced with the same temptations as other teens, struggling with the same questions as other Christians, yet always looking to the One she could trust. The One she loved. The One she knew was worthy. It was this devotion to her Savior that caused two troubled boys to target her on that terrible day.  Yet what the world intended for evil, God meant for good. Because that day, Rachel Scott won. That day she looked to Jesus and not to this world!  That day she made Jesus known to millions of people! And surely, that very day, she heard those beautiful words, “well done, good and faithful servant”…

Father, make us like Paul, like Rachel… Give us the courage and boldness to live for you and you alone. Father plant in our hearts the Truth of your kingdom, and make that the greatest desire of our heart. Make us a people so sold out for you, Lord, that we would look to you and you alone to affirm us, guide us, love us, complete us… Make us a people that trust you. That trust your promises. That will take the difficult stand in your Name, Lord.  Father, help us to trust your will no matter what it looks like… that even in times of hardships, we would trust your heart. Father, make us a people who chase hard after you, a people who count the cost so that we can finish this race well… always, always pointing to your beautiful Son... 

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