Friday and Saturday our town had a business expo that drew hundreds of interested of people to its lineup of local businesses, many of which gave away prizes and food, in addition to their own particular spiel about their service or products. Grand prizes were to be given to those who returned on Saturday for the drawing. Having invested some time to visit the booths on Friday, we decided to go all the way and be there for Saturday's finale. When we showed up we weren't surprised at the numbers who returned. There was a general air of expectancy, coupled with a good time connecting with friends also in attendance. When we arrived, we immediately encountered another fellow pastor and his wife and proceeded to just "hang out" and enjoy the crowd and each other. As the time for the drawing came near, we moved to a central location in front of the announcer who was at a mike on the balcony above the room. The press of the crowd left little walking room so we stood together, looking up to the action taking place above us. Following some preliminary announcements and gifts thrown out for people below to catch, they were ready to begin drawing the names. Before the first name was drawn and read, the announcer called out my wife's name and told her to go to a nearby booth where her name had been drawn for a prize. Surprised, she obeyed while we waited for her to return, which she did in moments, bearing her new blue digital camera.
Only moments earlier, as we spoke to our friends, they had mentioned the pastor's wife had won three prizes from individual booths the day before, and the pastor laughingly commented that they'd returned so she could be drawn for the new set of tires he wanted. Needless to say, when my wife's name was called, it renewed the amusement over the wives being the "lucky" ones. Within moments the announcer had the first name for a major prize. Imagine our added surprise when an elderly lady standing next to me raised her hand to claim it! This added to our amusement as we waited for the next name to be called. This time we were shocked to hear my pastor friend's name called, though not for the tires he wanted. The winner's circle around us was widening! Finally, the name for the tires was drawn. You'll not believe it! Another man standing within six foot of us raised his hand in response! Out of five names drawn, three were within touching distance! Truly mind blogging, er, bogging!
We laughed all the way home about the shock on our pastor's face! It was truly a photo moment, but the wife's new camera battery was not yet charged!
As I reflected on the day's amusing turn of events, I was struck by the spiritual applications. As God's children, indeed we are in THE WINNER'S CIRCLE! The Scriptures tell us that our names have been written down in the Lamb's Book of Life, if we have, by faith had our sin's forgiven, and have invited Jesus Christ into our heart and life. In effect, we've "signed-up" for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And it is no "luck" of the draw when we "look-up" to hear our name called to come away with Him to claim the prize.
As we stood there in the crowd, two called pastors and their wives, so close to the hundreds that surrounded us, I was further struck by the "calling" of God that puts us "in touch" with a world who need to know the Lord as we do. As physically we stood, almost touching the other winners of grand prizes, our spiritual "winner's circle" of "gospel touching" influence came into clear perspective for me. All too often we do not realize the impact for the gospel that we may have upon the crowds where we walk and live each day. We truly have a "winner's circle" of influence to enlarge with every day's encounters. And oh, the blessed joy that results will cause all of the world's passing prizes to pale in comparison. Now that will be a true "photo moment" to capture! Just be sure that your spiritual batteries are fully charged!
Note this passage about the High Calling of God: "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14
Be encouraged toward such a prize, my friends!