But in the meantime, summer or not, we are still here in the "shadowlands". And lately joy has been on my heart, or the lack of it. Though my season of grief is easing up a bit, I still long for that inner joy I once knew. Life just seems to be one challenge after another, which seems true for most of the people I know right now. It is no easy thing to be a Christian these days (as if it ever was :)). That is why the rewards of heaven are so enticing. And they should be! Reminding ourselves of what awaits us when we remain faithful is a beautiful thing and can really give hope on tough days. Aside from the magnificence of heaven itself, there are numerous possible blessings (I found 38 eternal rewards so far) in the bible; the rewards for bringing souls into the kingdom, (we will shine like the stars forever), the crown of life(enduring testing and temptation), the crown of righteousness (faithfulness), the crown of glory (elders), the inheritance that awaits us, being joint-heirs with Christ, eternal rest, the incorruptible crown, etc., etc.
All the way back to Daniel and the Psalms I found promises regarding eternity. That tells me that the Lord knew how much His people would need to hear what awaits us. But I think there's more. It's like my kids, asking me what I'll give them if they do this or that for me. Sometimes I tell them nothing above what we've already given or provided, it's just what's expected of them. However, if it's above and beyond normal chores or responsibilities, we really love rewarding them. I think it's that way with us and the Lord. He wants us to know what we can possibly receive above and beyond salvation, or basic entrance into heaven. It can challenges us to do more for Him, reach more people, excel in our spiritual growth.... reach for some of those rewards! Now if only my kids felt challenged to go above and beyond :).
I really am glad for all the bible teaches us about our future, of all that is to come, of all that is possible for us to receive. And I know that in that mix of blessings and rewards, there will be joy; immeasurable joy, in fact...the kind that will never fade. In the meantime, I will keep asking for some right here and now, even if it feels miles away. He said to ask, so I'm asking, Lord make my joy full. And help me to remember all the good things that lie ahead. My Jessica is already enjoying her rewards, and I know she'd want me to keep working toward my own. While enjoying summer, of course! ~