Home Sweet Home…
The world is beginning to feel less and less like my home…
More and more, though admittedly slowly over time, this world is beginning to feel less and less like my home. I am not consciously thinking about this very often at all—in fact, admittedly rarely—and I am not actively trying to convince myself of this either. Rather, I have begun to experience this feeling both consciously and subconsciously, subtly and overtly, implicitly and explicitly more and more each day (though certainly not everyday). However, especially now as I write, I feel it especially strongly…
And to be sure, this is not an ominous, depressing, fearful, troublesome, or malevolent feeling. It is not troublesome or awkward; it is comfortable, but noticeable (like an ice cold drink of water first thing in the morning that, after moistening your mouth, you actually feel going slowly down your esophagus). Even more so, this feeling is like one that we sometimes get when Spring is approaching. Though the calendar boldly declares that Spring begins on March 20th/21st, reality inChicagois such that Winter tends to be quite rebellious against the parchment proclamations describing our annual journey around the sun. Winter tends to be a bit cool towards Spring’s flirtation, a touch defiant to the solar authority authorizing Spring’s arrival.
Nevertheless, we begin to feel Spring’s arrival as
the snow begins to melt,
the ice begins to thaw,
the temperature begins to rise a bit,
birds chirp here and there for the first time in months,
boots, gloves, and mittens aren’t needed as often,
cold blasts of wind do not sharply slap your face as often each time you walk outside,
the tiniest buds on trees begin to bravely sprout.
Spring is approaching, and you feel it, though extremely subtly at first (almost invisibly to our attention) and though the calendar proudly declares that Winter still officially reigns supreme. Spring is approaching, though not at once like a tide crashing on the shore, but rather incrementally (in small stages), like
-the construction of a building
(with the birth of an idea in the mind of a builder, the hiring of an architect to begin drawing blueprints, the search for a suitable plot of land, the bids of contractors for future construction, and the application for loans and financing all occurring behind the scenes, invisible to the physical eye of a spectator standing in the street waiting for the magnificent building to appear. These steps occur invisibly to the unwitting spectator, but they still happen, and they are still vitally important for the production of the finished product, the building. These steps must happen first, and so they do in the appropriate time and order unbeknownst to most of us).
This is how my feeling—that this world is not my true, final, and authentic home—has been growing in me over the last few years.
Furthermore, this is not to say that this world is terrible, unimportant, unenjoyable, or devoid of beauty. On the contrary, this world can be beautiful, is important, is meant to be enjoyed, and is spilling over with beauty.
However, this world is like candy; a Starburst, in fact (my favorite! ). There is nothing wrong with candy—it is sweet, delicious, fun to eat, colorful, exciting to receive, and meant to be enjoyed. But while I enjoy Starburst very much, I never confuse candy with a meal. I never expect candy to give my body nourishment, but only to shock my taste buds with a deluge of flavor. I always know that my body—as much as it enjoys the candy—would not live very long on Starburst alone. It is, in fact, a temporary pleasure that disappears quickly (not as a fault, but according to design), taking with it just as quickly its sweetness, deliciousness, fun, colorfulness, excitement, and enjoyment. Candy was not intended to last forever (except maybe for Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper!), and it was certainly not meant to nourish and sustain life. It’s called Star-burst, not Star-last…
The healthy meal, in the end, is what counts. The healthy meal balanced with nutrients, fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, fats, etc. is what sustains life. The body can live on the meal; it cannot, however, live on the Starburst. Even so, the meal, with its primary function to nourish and sustain the body for life (that is, to live), can certainly be sweet, delicious, fun, colorful, exciting, and enjoyable (just ask Emeril Lagasse! ).
And that is how this world is—like the Starburst. And I thank the LORD that while His Word has confirmed this to humans for nearly 2,000 years (2 Corinthians4:18, Hebrews 11:8-10), He has been very patient with my slowness in accepting and surrendering to this truth. With God’s help, realizing this truth about the nature and function of this world is helping me to slowly relinquish my
The Holy Spirit is helping me to understand and accept that the world is temporary—it is meant to allow for life, but not meant (at least since the Fall) to sustain it forever. I am to be a faithful steward over this world, and a grateful enjoyer/sharer of God’s blessings in it. But I am not
meant to cling to the world as if it were some kind of life-preserver…it cannot fulfill that role (only One can, Jesus), and there is neither nobility nor honor in going down with this ship…
As is customary with the things of God, the birth and growth of this feeling is very helpful to us practically, in our daily lives. As our acceptance and understanding of this truth grows more and more—as we begin to understand that this world is not our final home and in general begin to view reality more clearly and soberly from God’s perspective—we can start to:
-have and enjoy God’s earthly blessings, but not need them;
-share and/or lose God’s earthly blessings, but not lament (fuss over) them;
-use and own God’s earthly blessings, but not be used and owned by them;
Moreover, viewing this world appropriately will also help us to:
-continue to love those who hurt us—our mistreatment is only temporary!
-stay committed in a marriage, church, & friendship during hard times—our difficulty is only temporary!
-cling to Jesus in faith despite doubt, suffering, and persecution—our agony is only temporary!
In fact, it seems that much of our sinful, disobedient, hurtful, and unwise decisions stem, at least in part, from an unconscious belief that this life is all there is (otherwise known as practical atheism/naturalism)! If even a part of us really believes that this life is all there is to our existence, then it is no surprise that we will run from:
and it is no surprise that we will then run (& cling) to:
-what we see
-what we desire (selfishness)
-personal honor and glory
-personal revenge/getting even.
But if we study Jesus’ life in the Gospels, we see that He ran toward the former, and away from the latter. So if we really want to follow Jesus…then we know what to do (and knowing is half the battle, at least according to the G.I. Joe cartoons I watched as a kid in the mid-80s!).
And most importantly, when viewing this world accurately, we start to:
-look forward with great expectation and anticipation to Jesus’ return—when He’ll bring us Home with Him!
When is the last time you got goosebumps, an elevated heart rate, or lost in dreamy thought about Jesus’ return, about what it will be like to see His face and His smile, about finally going Home?
My prayer for us all is that He would bless all of us with such excitement more and more often, for just like in the construction of a building, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are doing much behind the scenes as the Father attracts us to Him, as Jesus prepares our true Home for us, and as the Holy Spirit prepares us (namely, our character) for our true Home.
Finally, in addition to that, I realize that this feeling that I am droning on and on about here has only sprouted after the LORD has been helping me over the last five months to:
-read His Word more consistently (one chapter per day),
-see His active presence in the mundane (but not boring!) events of my daily life,
-invest a few minutes of quiet time with Him—in silence—at the start of each day, and
-invite Him into my daily and routine activities (loading the dishwasher, driving, sweeping, etc.).
I have been begging the LORD to meet with me during these activities and to help me with these issues over the last five months, and He has, my friends—my goodness He has.
Will you beg Him to do the same for you?
I am praying that you will—you won’t regret it, loved ones…
This new feeling or understanding is not a result of my personal goodness, saintliness, piety, or anything like that. I have not earned this—God has given it to me as a gift, and He wants to give it to all of us as a gift without favoritism! Just like one doesn’t earn a suntan but rather simply receives it by spending time in the sun, so we too do not earn but rather receive this gift of understanding God from simply spending time with Him—each day, in thought, word, deed, silence, and stillness—through prayer, reading the Bible, and through pausing quietly in His presence. If you want to spend time with Jesus, then hooray—get ready to start having a glorious “Son-tan” (I had to—I just couldn’t resist)! If not, don’t worry—ask Him to help you want to spend time with Him, and He will!!! And let’s pray this for each other as well…this desire can come and go for the best of us…
Let me close with this: C.S. Lewis famously stated that the people who make the most impact in this life are those who are most focused on the next life…
May I thus infer from that quote that the people who make the most impact in this life are those who are least attached to it?…
In other words: How can we hammer the nail if it’s glued to our hands? That would be a bloody mess…
May the LORD help us to see this world as it is, living in this world while living for the next one…
Your Loving Friend,
Who Is Finally Anxiously Awaiting the Return of Jesus,
Our Truest and Most Lasting Treasure~