I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. Although I miss him like crazy I know, if given the chance to come back “here” he’d refuse the offer. He’s in the presence of the King and nothing tops that! As I write this my siblings and I are celebrating the four-year anniversary of my dad’s death. I write “celebrating” for a reason. While his passing was a seeming loss for those of us left behind it was a win for him. My dad is now spending eternity with Jesus.
The Promised Land…Home Sweet Home
The Promised Land in the Bible was the earthly place/territory that God promised (covenanted) to give to His chosen people-the descendants of Abraham. The territory was located in Canaan (which today encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the southern portions of Syria and Lebanon). Parts of the Old Testament chronicle the years and the events that happened as God’s chosen people traveled to their new (promised) home.
The Promised Land isn’t only a physical location in the Old Testament; it’s also a metaphor pointing to the salvation of Jesus Christ and the promise (a new covenant) to us believers of the coming Kingdom of God. God promised (promises) to bless His faithful people and bring them into a restful place-their forever (eternal) home.
Even though my dad’s body remains in the grave waiting for Jesus’ return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), his soul/spirit is there with Jesus in heaven right now. I can’t help but smile when I think about all the times my dad would say “when the Good Lord takes me home” during his final years. He knew that the farmhouse he grew up in, raised us five kids in, and took his last breath in was just an earthly man-made structure. When Dad would make that comment he was showing us kids that he had his eyes on eternity-his home in the Promised Land.
“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1
Misplaced Priorities and Skewed Perspectives
The Promised Land came with a few conditions for the Israelites. 1) God required the nation of Israel (the descendants of Abraham) to trust and obey Him and 2) they were to worship only Him (Deuteronomy 7:12-15). Those conditions apply to me (and you) today too.
While I may not be wandering and roaming through the desert like the Israelites, there are things that I do that deter me from keeping my eye on my promised land. Sometimes I let misplaced priorities and skewed perspectives run amok in my life. Unfortunately, I tend to think of the here and now and forget the there and then.
Here are a few of my personal hang-ups (wilderness roaming?)…see if you can relate to any of them:
- Unrealistic Expectations. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I expect things out of this world and the people in it to do things or be things they can never be. I want things to be perfect but they never will be until eternity. My husband says things that irritate me, my children don’t always call when I want them to, my vehicle gets low on oil, my job gets tough, my house needs repairs, my friends aren’t always there for me. None of these things will ever be perfect-perfection is saved for eternity.
- More-More-More Mentality. I like “stuff.” I buy stuff. I sell stuff. I trade stuff. I barter for stuff. I polish stuff. I wash stuff. I dry stuff. I remodel stuff. I repair stuff. I store stuff. I donate stuff. I recycle stuff. Bottom line-I.like.stuff! Sometimes my “stuff” becomes too important and becomes like a little god to me. I won’t be taking my “stuff” with me when I die. God wants me to worship Him, not my stuff.
- Fears and Chicken Little Syndrome. Sometimes I let my fears have their way with me. Some are just little fears like worrying about my kids having an accident, but some of my fears morph into catastrophizing thoughts like “My head hurts…uh oh, what if I have brain cancer?!” I allow doom and gloom thoughts to steal my joy instead of keeping my eyes on eternal things and trusting God.
- Complaining, Thankless Thinking, and Wilderness Roaming. I’m pretty good at all of these. Take, for example, the remodeling that’s happening inside our home right now. Instead of being grateful for the new flooring and updated kitchen (all blessings/provisions of God), I find myself grumbling about the mess, the delays, or the tardiness of some of the contractors. I do this in other areas of my life too. I complain about the weather, the politicians in Washington DC, the media, my aches and pains, and the price of groceries. The Israelites were good at whining too. So much so that God kept them from entering their promised land and allowed them to roam around the wilderness for 40 years (while He taught them some valuable lessons). I don’t want to be like the complaining Isrealites-but sometimes I am.
- Me-ism. Meism is egotism or a focus on oneself. Yep, sometimes I believe the world should revolve around me (instead of on God). Some days I feel like my motto should be like the words in Janet Jackson’s famous song “What have you done for me lately?”. I completely forget what the Bible tells me in Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves
- I Can Do It Myself! If you look up the definition of autonomy you’ll find that it means the quality or state of being self-governing…to have self-directing freedom and moral independence. Too often I try to do things on my own. I forget that I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me to help and guide me. The Holy Spirit is not an “it” or a “something” like some people think. He is a Person. He is a Someone. He is God. There are three Persons in the Trinity-God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I have the Holy Spirit as my Comforter/Counselor/Helper. I am never without His Spirit, but sometimes I act like I am!
- I Give Him a Piece of My Mind! Sometimes I give God a piece of my mind and tell Him how angry or frustrated I am with Him. God can handle my anger or me questioning His goodness or His timing. I have a choice: I can either get caught up in my present-day circumstances OR remember His promised land covenant. Unfortunately, I often focus on my circumstances and predicaments. I forget that there are some things I will never make sense of on this side of eternity.
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7
- Short-Term Satisfaction. It’s embarrassing to admit, but a lot of times I crave the accolades of people. I want pats on the back, words of encouragement, and likes 👍and loves 🧡 on social media. While these aren’t necessarily bad things they can be when my temporary connections replace my relationship with The Eternal One.
Just Passing Through
I recently watched a short video clip of author and founder of Crazy Love Ministries Francis Chan giving a sermon on eternity. In the video, he uses a 100 ft rope to illustrate our thoughts on the complexities of this life and our thoughts about eternal life. One end of the rope in his illustration is wrapped in 2-3 inches of red tape. The red tape represents the small amount of time we are here on earth. The rest of the tape represents our eternal existence somewhere else (either heaven or hell). Most of us spend our life thinking about the red part. How can I be happy-here? How can I succeed-here? What can I accomplish-here? What can I amass-here? Yet very few typically spend time thinking about the billions and billions of years that are ahead of us-there. The Bible tells us that what we decide during the “red part” determines how we’re going to spend the rest of eternity. And, soberingly enough, we don’t have an eternity to make choices about our eternity!
Oh sure, there are lots of wonderful things that happen during our “red” years, weddings, births, and vacations to name a few, but they won’t even come close to what we’ll experience in eternity. I love this quote by author Paul Tripp “The taste we get of God’s good gifts here and now are meant to keep us hungering for the full meal that is waiting for us in eternity.” I’m just passing through on my way to much better things.
So what do I do when I sense that my priorities aren’t where they should be or that my perspective is skewed, and or that I’ve lost sight of eternity? Well, I talk it over with God. He loves spending time with me and enjoys it when I share with Him my questions and concerns. I ask Him to reveal specifically where things are “off” in my life. I’m also trying to approach each day as if it’s my first…and my last! I try to slow down, be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and look for opportunities where I can share with others how my relationship with Jesus has changed my life. Thankfully, I’m a work-in-progress (I’m on the Potter’s wheel after all) and He’s constantly extending grace to me (and a whole bunch of patience too!).
I’d love to hear back from you. Please consider sharing your thoughts with me. Can you relate to any of the hang-ups I wrote about? Got any of your own? How are you keeping an eye on the promised land? What are some ways you’re tweaking your perspective and priorities to reflect the hope of eternity?
Until next time,
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