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For the Record

Numbers 33:1-2
These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the LORD, and these are their stages according to their starting places.

A common idiom used frequently by pastors and authors regarding the necessity of enduring in faith goes like this: “It isn’t how you start the race that matters most, but how you end.” I’m sure you’ve spoken some variation of that biblical principle on many occasions. And it’s good to be reminded of that truth from time to time, especially in our seasons of faithlessness and prodigality, where we think our childhood prayer of ‘Jesus, come into my heart’ covers a lifetime of transgression, or where we spend our Monday-through-Friday lives advancing our own kingdoms, pursuing our own self-serving ambitions, yet point to our church membership card as some sort of immunity from present and future shame. Yet, paradoxically, the life of faith isn’t all about the ending either. What we do at the beginning—how we start that is—and what we do in the middle, our lives at present that is—matters just as much.

There’s something deeply unhelpful to the Christian who, as one writer pithily stated, ‘is so heavenly minded that he’s of no earthly good.’ Life on earth isn’t a long, arduous, labyrinthine tunnel to heaven. These aren’t throwaway days! Maybe you’re sick as a dog today, friend; maybe you’re reading this in a hospital room by a loved one’s bedside; maybe it’s been dark and rainy outside for a week and you’re just whiling away the seemingly meaningless hours; maybe you’re present in the body as it were but not exactly present in spirit: you woke up, got out of bed, poured the morning coffee, but you’re stuck mentally in some past trial or in some future desire and you’re just not all here.

Take courage from Numbers 33:1-2! This stage, this season, this hum drum, forgettable day is a meaningful moment in the divine record of your life: a significant sentence in the epic of your testimony that God is effectively scribing with His own hand for all of heaven to read.