If for the prize… it’s a great hymn. The first line contains these words: “If for the prize we have striven, after our labors are o’er, Rest to our souls will be given on the eternal shore.”
For our understanding, just what is the prize? It’s heaven, of course. Consider, that there are pleasures there that no mortal can now understand. And there’s no need of the sun or the moon for God and Jesus are the light of the city. That’s amazing! Jesus has rewards for heaven’s inhabitants, how extraordinary these must be. The street of heaven (there’s just the one) looks like gold, and the gates, walls, and foundations are precious gems. There are no illnesses there, never, of any kind – we’ll have a perfect existence forever. There are also special dwellings in heaven for heavenly folks. These fantastic things are told of in Revelation 21-22.
The result of all this is to lead us to a conclusion that heaven is worth striving for. To strive means two things: (1) to exert much effort or energy; endeavor. And (2) to struggle or fight forcefully; contend. To me, that sounds like a lot of effort is required. The Bible tells us the way home will be difficult, Matthew 7:13-14. There will be obstacles along the way, temptations, and those who would get in our way. However, we get to heaven by availing ourselves of the Lord’s strength, Ephesians 6:10, “Standing on the promises of God.”
And so, all of this is ours after our labors are over here, Revelation 14:13. We must keep our eyes on the prize – it’s worth striving for, Colossians 3:1-2. Keep your eyes on the prize!
There’s also eternal rest and joy in our heavenly home. So, how do you feel after doing the hardest work you’ve ever done? We long for rest, don’t we? This shows the intensity of the effort in reaching heaven. Earth’s life is sorrowful and often painful. It hurts and grieves to live here. Our rest is there, though, not here. Here, we must labor until our time to go to our heavenly home.
According to the song’s lyrics, we are waiting to get there, across the eternal shore. Our Lord made these promises to us several times during His time here. Those promises are recorded for us, and we can refresh ourselves on them anytime we want.
When life is hard for you, remember these things, the heavenly promises, the beautiful descriptions, and the excruciating sacrifice the Lord made for our eternal rest. Amen?
Garland Van Dyke