When you have lived out your appointed time on this earth, what is the first question Christ might ask about your life? Would it be how many obstacles you have overcome, which we know is important, or how many good things you have done for Him and His cause, which is also important?

With all the challenges, trials, and setbacks in our lives, when we have exhausted all our options, struggled with seen and unseen enemies, dealt with trials and temptations in which we have won some and lost some, if we are alive, and Christ has not returned, its not over yet. There is one thing that we must continue to do. Because, its not over until its over.

But when it is over, there will be only one very important question that must be answered: did we endure to the end...this is the ultimate imperative for all of us (Matthew 10:22).

A very dear friend and brother in Christ said, as he realized Christ might not return in his lifetime, that he was beginning to feel that he needed to focus more on living the faith than on dying in the faith. He could be required to live longer, and Christ could wait longer than once thought. Enduring could be required longer that expected. My friend's wife cautioned him, saying that her mother was certain that Christ would return in her life time. She had passed on many years earlier.

Down through the centuries since Jesus brought the world the good news, each generation has felt that He would surely return in theirs. So it is important for all of us to ask, what if I am required to endure for a longer time than expected - whatever that time is. Many prophecies, and the words of Jesus Himself indicate many things will occur prior to His return. At this time now it seems as though His return must be near - even at the door (Matthew 24:43).That first generation after Christ expected Him to return in their lifetime (Romans 13:11). The end time generation will tend to believe that He will not come in theirs (Luke 12:45-46).

"At the door" is a relative term, depending on many variables. In addition, He has said that conditions on earth would become so terrible that they will need to be "cut short" for the elect's sake. We can see that that time probably has not come as yet. But Christ Himself did not know when He was here when that time would be (Acts 10:6-7). Only God the Father knew, at least at that time.

When our lives are going well, at least that which we can see, we must keep in mind there is a danger in the going well. We can become spiritually lackadaisical and let down our guard. Enduring applies equally important, and just as difficult, in the good times. In some ways, is can be easier to endure the bad times than the good times. We can take an object lesson from many of the saints who have come and gone before us. They did not know when Christ would return. Many had to endure much longer that they expected. Some had to endure only a short time. What if time goes on...and on...and on....? If you live another one hundred years, will you be found enduring when He comes? (Luke 12:43).

We all have experienced good times. We have all experienced bad times. This is the crucible to which God has called us to endure. How are we handling "the good, the bad, and the ugly"? We do not know how long we will need to endure. But we do know we must. It is of ultimate importance. Jesus said so. A short time? A long time? In good times. In bad times. It matters not. There is always one thing above all to keep in mind. When we have finished running our race, it will be evident whether we have obeyed that ultimate imperative.

When it was near being all over for the Apostle Paul, he knew what the question was. And he answered it to himself, and to his beloved child in the faith:

"I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith. As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor's] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day--and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return)." - 2 Timothy 4:8 (AB)

Endure!