The following is an an article a friend of mine wrote shortly before leaving earth for heaven. He is at home now, and his faith has become reality. Welcome home my friend.
By Russ Rickeard
A favorite story of mine involves a missionary teacher who was preparing to go home on furlough. After she had told her class she would be leaving shortly, one of her best students was absent for a week. When he returned to class, he brought an exquisite seashell which he had picked up at the beach as a farewell gift for her. She thanked him for the gift, and realizing hat he had walked three days to get to the shore and find the shell and then walked three days back to their village, she said that he really shouldn't have walked so far just to get her gift. He replied, "The walk is part of the gift."
I have always found that line to be very poignant—The walk is part of the gift. It is a reminder that the involvement of the giver is more valuable than the intrinsic price of the gift. But recently I have seen those words in a completely different context.
Salvation is often called the gift of eternal life. Even after we have accepted this gift, we still have to live here on this earth, and we often speak of our life as a walk. Throughout the Bible—in the writings of Moses, in the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels and the Epistles—we find life referred to as a walk. Most of us think that this walk is our gift back to God. While some can picture their walk primarily as a stroll through a flowered field with the pleasant murmur of a brook in the background, others of us have experienced traumatic walks. Instead of strolling through grassy fields, we have had to stumble through the stark desert. There are no fragrant blossoms, only thorns. Instead of instant refreshing from the stream, we learned to conserve the water in our canteens because the next well is not even in view. When we started up the mountain, our ascent was not a series of gentle switchbacks; rather we have climbed around huge boulders and over treacherous rock slides. When we stop and contemplate our progress, we are usually bruised and bloody, tired and sore.
After a particularly rough climb recently, I was appreciating the gift of victory and self-control I had been enjoying, but I was upset and ashamed of some things I had gone through. I wished it had been easier to get here. That was when I heard the Lord say, "The walk is part of the gift." I thought, "Part of the gift? What else can I give? What more do you want?" Lovingly he continued, "What I'm saying is that your walk is part of my gift to you. It is wrong for you to despise the path I have chosen for you to walk. Don't you see what I have been doing as we have walked along this path? Haven't you appreciated the fact that whatever you have endured I was there with you? This rough terrain has brought you into an intimate relationship with me. Would you be comfortable with this closeness to me if we hadn't had to wrap our arms around each
other as we huddled in the storms? When we squeezed through that crevice together, we were close—remember? And I held your hand tightly when you stumbled and fell over the edge; the scars attest to how badly you were injured but I didn't let you destroy yourself. Look past the scrapes and the scars. Look at the muscle and stamina and endurance you have developed. Look at the man you have become—and are still becoming."
He allowed me to look back over my path for a moment before he went on. "Look at all the things you don't have to fear any more. You don't still want that bondage, do you? The only way you could be standing where you are right now was to walk the steps that brought you here. To fully appreciate the gift of where you are today you have to appreciate the gift of getting here."
I was silent as the impact of his words penetrated my mind and my heart. Place
and process, both are a gift from God. As glorious as my ultimate prize will be, I will never lose sight of the wonderful privilege I have of walking this road with him. Indeed, the walk is part of the gift.