Several years ago now I had a frustrating time while working as youth leader at my church. I was in a situation that I'd been in before and I'd be in over and over again. I found myself caring more about a kid than they cared about themselves.
Teens often have a shortsighted view on life, and why wouldn't they? I was, in this particular situation, worried about a course of action that this particular teen was taking. The teen, however, couldn't care less. They were hurting themselves for short-lived pleasure.
I found myself frustrated to the point of tears. I was sick to my stomach and nearly out of my mind with concern that was not reciprocated, with instruction and wisdom that was being ignored.
It was during this time that my pastor shared a passage with me that I've gone to a lot.
"The seventy-two returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.'
He replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemies; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven." Luke 10:17-20
I often am tempted to place my joy in my apparent successes or failures in guiding the lives of the students in the youth group. What I needed to learn was not to rejoice or despair based on the visual successes or failures of the mission God has placed me on; my joy must be found in my salvation. My name is written in Heaven in the book of life and nothing can blot that out. However, there will be high and low points in the mission Christ has given me. None of what I do for Christ will ever be wasted but I can't look at what I see there to give me joy.
I am still learning this lesson. When I came across this passage in my daily reading today I was reminded to focus on unmovable joy-givers.
Rejoice that your name is written in Heaven today.