“When My Trophies At Last I Lay Down”

Several years ago, when I first became a literature evangelist, I was attending an awards banquet for the best sales persons in the Southwest. I was awe struck by the nice shiny plaques and trophies the winners were receiving for leading the region in sales, hours worked, and other categories. I was so impressed that I decided right then and there that I was going to be Number One next year so that I could receive such a reward at the next awards banquet.

The next year I went out and worked from early morning until as late at night as I could. After all, if I couldn’t lead the region in sales, I could at least lead in hours worked by just working all the time. Sure enough by the end of the year I had led my region in hours worked and in sales! I could not wait to receive that award I had been fantasizing about all year! Only one problem: Due to finances there was no awards banquet that year. Nothing for me! No recognition! I was angry and upset. I had been slighted. I felt insulted by my leaders.

Soon after that, I was on my way to an appointment to show the Christian books to a family in Grove Oklahoma. As I was driving down an old dirt road, I ran across an old historic church and a very old cemetery next to it. Being the history buff that I am, I decided to take a few minutes and look around. It was interesting! Many of the people had died in the 1800’s. I saw many graves for children and little babies. One family had lost four babies over the course of a few years, and I was amazed at the faith of this family as they had a Scripture promise engraved on each grave marker.

As I was contemplating the suffering this family must have endured, it dawned on me that many of these people had died at ages a lot younger than I was. Soon I was contemplating the fact that I had outlived many of these people and, of course, was the only one alive right now. Soon a voice inside my mind started asking me the questions, “Why have you outlived these people, and why are you alive right now?” As I pondered the suffering and heartache of the families represented in the cemetery and in the world today, it hit me like a bolt of lightning! I am not alive today to win trophies and awards. Those trophies cannot heal broken hearts, they cannot forgive sins and they cannot give people hope for tomorrow. Suddenly I realized how selfish and silly I had been. I decided to minister to save people’s souls and give them hope and not to win awards. I then realized the meaning of the words in an old classic hymn, “When my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross.” I realized my trophies were my works, what I had earned. Of course nothing that I had earned, could ever heal a broken heart, forgive a single sin, or save my soul, let alone someone else’s!

Finally, the regional director felt sorry for me and sent me a very nice plaque. Several years after that, I was asked to have a vespers service for a church youth group camp-out. I asked them to have a bonfire going as I gave my talk. I showed the kids my nice shiny plaque and let them admire it as I talked about how hard I had worked for it. Then I told them how that plaque could do nothing to save me or anyone else. I then took the trophy and threw it into the fire. As the trophy melted in the fire and the kids looked at me with shocked expressions, I told them that “My trophies I lay down, and now cling to the old rugged cross.” I don’t need the trophy, I need the cross, for it can accomplish so much more for a hurting, dying world! Now, instead of being motivated by awards and trophies to save souls, I am motivated by the cross of Christ. “The love of Christ constrains me.”

I told you about my trophy. Now what about yours? Are you holding onto a trophy in your life today? Ask yourself if that trophy can heal a broken heart, or forgive sins, or give people hope. I encourage you to lay down your trophy and join me, as we all cling to the old rugged cross. Never again do I want to live to draw people’s attention to my trophies. I am alive today for one reason and one reason only—to draw people’s attention to the Cross of Christ.

Why are you alive today?

Posted in Evangelism, Feature, The Cross Tagged , , , permalink

About William Earnhardt

William Earnhardt has been a Bible Worker, literature evangelist and lay pastor in Oklahoma and Texas, before coming to the Tampa Bay area, where he has been a Bible instructor and lay pastor for the past 12 years. He has also held revivals and evangelism seminars, as well as soul winning workshops from Peru to Connecticut. You can find William's study guides and devotionals at williamdearnhardt.com


“When My Trophies At Last I Lay Down” — 24 Comments

  1. God's Rich Blessings William,

    A testimony rich in the Holy Spirit's leading. A poignant reminder of the Gospel and how Jesus lay Himself down for us, His trohpies. All He asks of us to is accept Him and in doing so, share the great good news of the Gospel with others; our loved ones and those we are blessed with that He places in a our pathway.

    I always appreciate your postings, they cause me to pause and enjoy how God looks over me and mine, in His love. May He continue to lead and bless you richly in your witness to others! A blessed week ahead.

  2. You've possed a great challenge to me today and made me realise how useless are the things I value most in life.It is my desire to cling tightly to that old cross because that's where my destiny lieth.

  3. Thanks William for this printing of this story. I love this story and it really touches my heart. When I first heard it, it gave meaning to the reason that God had me give up so many things. Nobody cared about me much, including the tennis trophy, swim meet award, singing group, piano playing, writing, and even my high school graduation. Then I moved 36 times in 10 years and it made it easier to have few things. It's ok now because I have became a Christian and it is wonderful to know there is an inheritance in Heaven and that is much better than anything here - whether emotional or material. I too seek to give others hope through Bible study and improved health through nutrition and cooking classes.
    It's a plan God thought of and His plans are good for the heart.

  4. What an encouraging story. Indeed, wordly trophies are just but dew which is for a while and later evapourates. the old rugged cross indeed stands as a trophy each one should yearn to have. it is the trophy that determines our destines.

  5. William thanks for this post,

    It was a very simple but power thought with illustration I ever came across.

    God bless.

  6. Paul and Silas are a good example of what Seventh-day Adventist should be like. Having a powerful impact in every aspect to the people they minister to.

  7. Thank you for such a wonderful and touching testimony, may we all remember why we are here. Material things will not save us, but saving souls and witness for Gods word is a start.

    • Actually the real start is, "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb 11:6 NKJV). The idea that what we do has a bearing on our salvation is a subtle philosophical dead end. All of our works are too tainted with sin to do us any good in commending us to God (Isa 64:6). We do what we do because of what He has already done for us. In other words, our good works are our response to our salvation. Therefore we are saved solely on the basis of a free gift where God declares us righteous (justification) and then sends us His spirit to work in us in order to bring our lives into conformity with God's laws (the process of sanctification)

      To Seventh-day Adventists I think the last part of Heb 11:6 is perhaps the most important for it is through His promises that we obtain all the power to do the good works. The new covenant is the promise, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Heb 8:10 NKJV). It basically is the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and is the only way we are sanctified and can do anything right (2 Pet 1:2-4).

      • I am confused, this testimony is powerful, but the Bible versus we quote from comes mostly from the New Translations, such as NKJV the NIV. [MODERATOR'S NOTE: The concern over Bible versions has been moved to the more appropriate topic, "Holy Scriptures - Fundamental Belief 1" http://ssnet.org/blog/2011/06/holy-scriptures-fundamental-belief/ ]

        Thanks William for your personal testimony of what is really important to us not stuff but to win Christ! It’s important to encourage each other by sharing and witnessing how we become changed through the love of Christ working in and trough us. A verse comes to mind, (Heb 10:25 KJV) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

  8. Thanks William for your personal testimony of what is really important in this life. The only trophy that really matters is hearing Christ say well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of the Lord.

  9. Am encouraged and challenged because many a times we strive to win the admiration's of the world not knowing that they will not save our soul nor the souls of others. its my desire that as I live in this world I also should cling to the cross of Christ and lay all the worldly trophies down.

  10. Love is not only the most pure but also the most powerful motivation in the world. Thank you so much for the prayers for my ministry. It means so much! Thank you also for praying for the gospel all around the world.

  11. This so inspiring!! Got me really thinking and reflecting on some the trophies that we spend our entire lives trying to acquire. Some of them even cause us so much stress and lead to our eventual demise on this earth. If ONLY we could cling to the old rugged cross which qualifies for that eternal life.

  12. Thank you very much William l am really touched by your testimony about clinging to worldly pleasures, l ask for God's intervention so that I and other fellow Christians understand the reason why we are alive. Happy Sabbath.

  13. Oh, this is really inspiring! Some times we clamour and struggle with making things right & perfect as to get an applause or attention from people while forgeting that there's a Supreme one that searcheth the heart and seeth all that we do.

    Thank you for this inspiration and I look forward to more of such. God bless us all.

  14. Your story is hits the point of why we are here and what is our purpose in life. I used to show off all the plaques, awards, and trophies I have won from different sports until one day God showed me my vulnerability with a heart attack.

    • Ugh! Rafael, I am glad you have survived. Looks like you had a wake up call a lot more dramatic than the one I described in my post. Thank God for these moments that remind us what life is really all about.

  15. Hi William, I enjoyed reading your testimony. It has indeed blessed my evening. I am a part time LE. God bless.

  16. Cling to the old rugged cross. Hey it is very important to lay down our trophies. Let me pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ to help us do that whole heartedly. For me I am working to an international organisation where all the time people are out servicing meetings and being rewarded with per-diem whilst they loose time for being in the temple with other Christians and forgetting even the very SABBATH to keep it Holy. From the beginning I was fighting to be included and The Almighty who knows the future from the beginning made this not to materialise and am happy only now about it. Be blessed.

  17. The heart-touching experience, narrated above, reminds me of what really matters in relation to theory and praxis. The Thessalonians accepted the gospel as the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13) . This is a miracle of divine inspiration - the word of God in human language, a combination of the divine and the human, as it is in Christ`s incarnation. Having received the word of God by faith, the Thessalonians did not cling to it as a dead theory. Their lifes changed. Their hearts were filled with love and joy inspite of affliction (1 Thessalonians 3:4,6). The Holy Spirit worked within them a life of holy cantification, opposite to pagan corruption (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:3,7). Not just a theory, but the experience of justification and santification can be ours.

    Winfried Stolpmann

  18. The Old Rugged Cross is an EXCHANGE market where we LAY DOWN our TROPHY that we may WIN a CROWN (Christ). I must CLING fast to the Old Rugged Cross!


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