My Best?

September 8, 1860. The Lady Elgin steamship was carrying more than 300 passengers on a sightseeing tour from Milwaukee to Chicago. At two in the morning, the ship collided with a schooner on the waters of Lake Michigan near Waukegan, Illinois.

Most of the passengers and crew died. Only a handful reached the lifeboats. Some washed toward shore, only to be overcome by a deadly undertow. Many victims held onto floating debris for long hours in the cold water. But seventeen people were saved that night by a Northwestern University student named Edward Spencer.

An experienced swimmer, Spencer tied a rope to his body, and time after time swam through the waves to grab exhausted passengers. Friends then pulled the other end of the rope until Spencer and the victim reached the shore.

Finally, having reached the limits of his strength, his body bruised and wounded, Spencer passed out. He woke up in his room where his brother, William waited on his recovery. When he regained consciousness, Edward Spencer’s first words were, “Will, did I do my full duty – did I do my best?”

He tried to resume studies at Northwestern, but the physical and emotional toll was too severe. Though the nation praised his deeds, Edward was never completely comfortable with the attention. The faces and cries of the victims he had not been able to save forever haunted him.

After Edward’s death over 50 years later, Will Spencer described his brother’s private torment: “His face would turn ashen pale, and he would fasten his great hungry eyes on me and say, ‘Tell me the truth. Did I fail to do my best?’”

The Bible says that there is coming a day when every believer will appear at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. 

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

The purpose of this judgment seat is not to determine whether we enter Heaven, for everyone who stands at that judgment will be saved. Instead, the question on the Lord’s lips will be: “Did you do your best?”

I am not responsible for doing anyone’s best but my own. Jesus will not hold me accountable for doing Billy Graham’s best or David Platt’s best. Instead, He asks me to do Stephen Rummage’s best.

You are accountable for doing your best for Jesus. As you go about your daily activities and as you face the opportunities the Lord gives you to serve Him today, ask yourself this simple, but life-changing question: Am I doing my best?

Have a great day and keep moving forward!