Monday, April 30, 2018

In Hot Pursuit.

When was the last time you had a goal? Something legitimately tangible, something you could take steps toward with confidence, knowing you could reach the end result you desired?

I often have a hard time pulling these sorts of memories out of my brain but I do remember when I first started making wire-wrapped studs for my jewelry business. I had a craft fair coming up and I had a certain number of earrings I wanted to make sure were available and ready for purchase. I looked at how many days of work I had until then, how many earrings I wanted to have finished, and basically did the math. It was simple and easily attainable, so I went for it. I even exceeded my goal and felt awesome going into my sale weekend.

Pursuing finishing the race of life well feels a little bit different than pursuing these types of goals. Okay, probably a lot different. We don't have that end date positively defined (though I think most of us would have a hard time living if we really knew exactly when we would die). We don't know the details of what precisely we need to have finished by that questionable ending. And at best, we have foggy ideas about what it will be like to live forever. While none of these things are crystal clear to me after pondering, studying, and talking about it all month, I do feel better prepared to keep running this race the way God desires.

The last of my four points from the beginning of April has really stuck with me this last week or so. How am I preparing to meet Jesus in my death or His resurrection? Am I simply waiting for the moment to arrive or am I actually pursuing the life I will have in eternity?

If this life really is all about glorifying God and becoming a part of His kingdom, why are we so caught up in pursuing things in this world and only waiting idly by for Jesus' return? I said in my last post that most of us think Christ will come during our lifetime but that it is statistically unlikely. Maybe, but God isn't ruled by statistics. I think we should expect Christ's return. We should want it, we should work as if it will happen any day, and freely give like our lives truly depend on His 2nd coming.

But what does it really mean to pursue these things? How do you actually live like this? Sorry, I don't have a lot of answers. I've only been thinking about it for a week, and my mind is easily distracted. One thing I do know is that we need to begin to see where our daily lives do not line up with the desire for eternity we are called to have. Hebrews says Abraham was looking forward to the city God was building, not toward the things he could gain on earth. And this phrase in the Greek is not a passive waiting or a hopeful feeling; it is an eager expectation, an active looking. Abraham was in hot pursuit of the eternal life God had for him.

I can feel the vast difference between this kind of eager expectation and the way my life is now. I don't know how to get it there, but I want to. Most of my day revolves around my family's needs, my own desires, and the expectations others have for me. But I am at least beginning to recognize when my motivations are not eternally minded, which leads me to asking God for help. Funny how all things seem to come back to this.

We need God to give us vision, hope, and desire for the eternal life we have in Him. We cannot muster up the right kind of longing or a strong enough willpower to hang our hopes in eternity, especially against all the temporary pleasure the world says is okay or even wise to pursue. The better vision we have for eternity, the easier time we will have pursuing it.

Overall though, it has been a good month for me. Thinking about the new earth, about eternity, and about where I place my hope day-to-day is humbling and can be intense, but it also lifts a tremendous burden off my heart. I feel like I can put down the hopes I have for things on the earth and trust God completely for my hopes to be met in Him, both now and even more so in eternity. This enables me to let go of the things God does not have for me right now, willingly, and sometimes even eagerly. It is totally contrary to what most people in the world will encourage you to do and I often have to shut my eyes and ears off to what others say is valuable, or worthy, or good.

In all of this, once again I have circled back to the importance of Knowing God. When we know Him, pursue understanding Him, and place our hopes in what He wants, eagerly expecting the return of Christ becomes easier, more fulfilling, and enables us to better live life. I still wrestle every day; it was incredibly hard just to sit down and write all of this out! But my discernment for what is valuable in eternity is getting better and I know it will reach into the lives of those around me too.

How will you focus on eternity? What change do you think it will have for you this week, this month, or this year?

I would encourage you to find a question you can ask yourself when you feel the pull of the world driving you nuts. With my kids, I often ask myself "What will this do to enable them to Know God better?" and if the answer is "not much" or "nothing" I try to chill out and pray for a better reaction. I am seeing that affecting their eternity is far more important than my daily, weekly, or even lifetime agenda for them. It's hard, but worth it. It makes today better and will make a difference in eternity too.

I pray God will be ever present with you, that He would open your eyes to what is valuable to Him both now and in eternity. Come back in a couple days as we press on into May, seeking to know what it means to be Called to Receive His Power. As always, feel free to comment, ask questions, or join our FB group to enter into the conversation.

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