A Complete Life

His was a complete life.

In his obituary, it was said of Samuel Hildreth, “He was . . . an honest man, a Christian. His was a complete life, he ‘finished his work.’”

Relatively unknown today, he was no grasshopper of a man during the pioneering days of America. He lived his entire life in an otherwise obscure town of Marietta, Ohio, the first permanent settlement (founded in the later 1700s) of what was then called the Northwest Territories. The population of that community had risen only to about 14,000 by the year 2010. For those interested, his story is told in a fascinating book, The Pioneers, by historian David McCullough.

That epithet caught my attention, the biblical fingerprint being hard to miss: “His was a complete life.” What made his life remarkable?  (You’ll have to read the book to find out). But the appellation reminds me of the Lord Jesus, who lived a complete life. He said as much when in the Upper Room he prayed to his Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which you have given me to do” (John 17:4).

Not to diminish the example of the Lord, we also note that the apostle Paul followed the Lord’s example; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” (2 Tim. 4:7). He knew what his life’s mission was. He ran the race that was set before him.

What has the Lord, our Master, called you to do with your life? Maybe your assignment has been to serve in an obscure, out-of-the-way place, with little human recognition. Possibly he has appointed you to glorify him in a ministry of little progress or marginal results. To be sure, we should not accept mediocrity in our service of the one whose name is Excellence (Ps. 8:1 NKJV). But when we have done our best and remain obscure when others get noticed, we need to remain undeterred in glorifying Him through our humble faithfulness.

So-called “greater” men are not able to do what God has called you to do. Those who preach to thousands may not have what it takes to preach to a handful without giving up in discouragement. The Lord didn’t choose Billy Graham to do your work. He chose you! He did not want a best-selling author or a high-demand conference speaker to do your task. The Sovereign of the universe wanted you. What matters is that in the end, you are found faithful doing what God called you to do.

You don’t want to be like the insecure, fearful Jewish spies at Kadesh-Barnea. Their assessment after scoping out the Promised Land and its inhabitants was this: “We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Num. 13:33). God has not chosen small little insects to do his work.  Your mission, although it may seem small and you may never achieve widespread name-recognition, is huge in God’s eyes. Remember, his way of measuring fruit differs significantly from ours. What is he looking for?

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely his.” (2 Chron. 16:9).

He is looking for servants whose hearts are completely with God and his program.

We remind ourselves that there is no greater accolade than to hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21 ESV). Or in other words, “Well done; yours was a complete life.”

Don’t give up, faithful servant. Continue the work God has given you to do. Live a complete life!