An urgent call to a serious faith

There is a Native American legend that has been passed down through the centuries which carries a valuable lesson for today's world. The story goes that the chief of a certain tribe lay dying and so he called his three sons in order to appoint a worthy successor. He set them an unusual test. He said "One of you must replace me as chief. I want you to climb to the very top of our holy mountain and bring me back something beautiful. The one whose gift is most outstanding will become my successor.
After several days the three sons returned. The first brought a flower which was extremely rare and beautiful. He had found it half way up the mountain and being content with his find he felt it would be too much trouble to climb further. The second brought a stone which was colourful and smooth having been polished by the wind and rain. He too had found it half way up but didn't believe that there was any point going higher. The third son however said "Father, I haven't brought anything back. I fully obeyed you by going to the very top of the mountain and when I got there I could see the other side. I saw that over on the other side there is a beautiful land with green pastures and I thought ‘That's where the tribe should go for a better life'. I was so overcome with delight that I forgot to bring anything back." The old chief replied, "Ah, but you have brought something back- something which is priceless. By fully obeying me, you have been able to bring back a vision of a better life which you have seen with your own eyes. Your two brothers only went half way up and were content to bring back things of no real value. Due to their disobedience they failed to experience what you did. You will be my successor."

Before Jesus completed His earthly ministry He made a very precious promise to those who would truly follow Him. In John Ch 14v21, He promised, "If anyone follows Me, I will then manifest and reveal Myself to them." What Jesus meant was that when a person truly follows and obeys Him, then in return, He will actually reveal Himself to that individual at a personal level. The individual will then move from the position of saying "I believe that there is a God" to the position of being able to say "I KNOW that there is a God because I have personally experienced Him for myself."

These faithful ones are like the third son who was fully obedient to his father by going all the way to the top. The successful son wasn't content in going just half way, and so he was  rewarded with a personal vision of a better land. So likewise, those who fully obey the Lord in their personal life are granted  special personal experiences of Him as a reward for their faithfulness. On the other hand, just as his two brothers failed to experience this better land through disobedience so likewise those who are half hearted in following the Lord will fail to experience Him personally. The promise of these personal experiences, are only for those who are fully and truly obedient. It is a very special and precious reward reserved only for the faithful.

Notice that the two sons who failed to experience the vision, disobeyed for different reasons. The first one disobeyed through laziness. He had found a beautiful flower and thought it too much trouble to climb further. He represents those who know what they should do but don't bother doing it. They know they should regularly pray and read the Bible, they know God is important and spiritual things matter, but its all too much trouble. It's just too bothersome to be obedient to the Lord.

The other son disobeyed his father's will, not through laziness, but through a lack of faith. He found a beautiful stone and so didn't believe there was any reason to go further. He doubted that there could possibly be anything better at the top. This son represents those who don't believe God's promise that those who follow Him will experience and enjoy "real life in its fullest abundance". (John Ch 10v10).  These are people who doubt the prophecies of Scripture and who think that God's promises are false. If they had been faithful like the third son, then they would have experienced the reality of God for themselves and found His promises absolutely true. They would have discovered that God doesn't lie and is absolutely Faithful.

Those who are fully obedient in following the Lord get to know Him at a personal level. They have a personal and living relationship with Him and He comes to be their Best Friend and Closest Companion. This private relationship is referred to as being "The secret of the Lord" in Psalm 25v14. It is an intimate relationship reserved only for the faithful. Through this relationship they know there really is a life beyond, they know their sins are forgiven, and they have no fear of death or the Judgement which we all must face. They know that there really is hope and that there is a Being Who deeply loves them and shares all their troubles. They know they do not walk through this life alone and aren't fearful about the future of the world as others are, being confident that ultimately "all will be well" for those who love God and put Him first.

The spiritually lazy and faithless experience none of these assurances  because they aren't obedient and are failing "to go to the top of mountain." It is quite obvious that today, the term "Christian" is used by all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. Many seem to imagine that the Cross amounts to a way of escape from serious living and from a serious faith. They seem to think that there is no need for personal discipline or any effort in ones personal life in order to be a Christian. These individuals are deluding themselves and in so doing will never experience the Lord at this intimate personal level. They are like the two sons who failed to climb to the top. Provide such individuals with some material possessions as represented by the flower and the stone and they are soon put off doing anything more or climbing any higher. Only if they climb the mountain of faith  can the Lord reward them with a personal experience of Himself.

Let us be fully obedient like the faithful son and get to experience the view from the top. It is a Divine encounter that will transform us from within and change our lives forever.