This world isn’t supposed to work

Most days, living is a privilege. Being alive is a gift. But I’m fully aware how blessed I am, and that not everyone can agree on whether life is a blessing or a curse. At least, as far as this life is concerned. A lot of it depends on your perspective.

But something I’ve learned through the years of following Christ is that we shouldn’t get too comfortable here. Whether life is fun or not, whether it’s joyous or not, life here isn’t permanent. None of us are staying. I’m not home yet, and neither are you.

dawn-landscape-sky-sunset_1540x1004Today’s verses are Hebrews 11:13-18.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

How many millions and billions of people have died before us? How many people went into eternity before we were even born? The world may have 6 or 7 billion people living on it now, but other people pre-dated us. And the Bible says none of them have ceased to exist. They’ve continued to “live” but their mailing address has changed to one of two places.

The whole chapter of Hebrews 11 is a beautiful tribute to many of the Bible legends we’ve grown up with. It’s a fast, awesome read, and I highly recommend it. And it points out a number of really important facts about the Christ-followers who preceded us.

None of them got to see the answer to God’s promises while they were alive on Earth. They lived their lives for Him, and He took care of them. He guided them. He was their friend. But in this life, they didn’t get to experience what God has promised.

Hebrews 11 is a tribute to Old Testament heroes. We could write a similar tribute to the heroes of the New Testament, and their story would be the same. They followed God with everything they had. Some gave their lives. But they didn’t get to experience all that God promised while they were walking on the Earth.

The same is true for heroes in other time periods too. And if the Lord continues to be patient with our world, it’s the story others will tell about Christ-followers of my generation. We followed Christ, but we didn’t get to see all of His promises fulfilled.

So here’s the question: Do you only do something right because you’ll be reward for it? Do you only maintain a relationship for what you can get out of it? Or is it enough to know what what you’re doing is right and that you get to play a role in a bigger story?

Don’t be frustrated when life doesn’t work out the way you want. Things in this world aren’t supposed to work. It’s broken, remember? And don’t even be frustrated when God’s plan doesn’t go the way you expect. He knows what He’s doing.

God has made promises. And, make no mistake, He’ll keep them all. But as a Christ-follower, we have to willing to accept that we may not see them while we’re alive on Earth. What’s great, though, is that we will see them. We just need to remember that this life isn’t about us and what we want. This life is about Jesus. Sort of like how eternity is about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. So make your life about Him and watch what happens.

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Pretty pink flower - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Don’t Panic!!

I have noticed an influx of those “Keep Calm!” t-shirts. I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed them or not, but they’re pretty random and kind of funny. “Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake” or “Keep Calm and Don’t Blink” and so on and so forth. I get them mixed up with the “Don’t Panic and Carry a Towel” t-shirts, which references Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Maybe that’s a silly example, but I have also noticed more and more materials out there that are all about trying to stay calm in rough situations. Self-help books and 12-step programs and meditation guides–lots of people smarter than me have all been working on ways to help us stay calm through the dark parts of life.

But do any of those methods work? In Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the one item you needed to help you out of any situation was a towel.

So is there an item we can carry around with us that will help get us out of scrapes and help us to not panic?

Pretty pink flower - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Pretty pink flower – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Deuteronomy 31:6.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Well … maybe it’s not an item. But it’s something to remember. This was actually Moses speaking to the Children of Israel just before he handed over leadership to Joshua. He told Joshua something similar, but this message was for the people who would be following Joshua.

Personally, I’m not prone to panic. It’s difficult for me to get to that place. I generally stay fairly calm in just about any circumstance … unless we’re talking about getting up in front of people or talking to someone I don’t know. Then, panic becomes very natural for me. But when you get right down to it, panic doesn’t solve anything. Actually, panic creates more problems than it solves. And it doesn’t even make you feel better. It just makes you more difficult to deal with than normal!

When you’re panicking, you’re not thinking. You’re just feeling. And it’s not that feelings are bad, but when you allow only emotions to dictate your decisions, you’re really just asking for trouble.

Moses knew that the people of Israel had some major challenges they were going to have to face, and he wanted them to be aware of what was coming. He could have told them not to worry and that Joshua was going to take care of everything. He could have told them to be disengaged from what was going on in the world and just chill until the ride was over. But he didn’t. He told them to be strong and courageous. The line where he told them no to panic indicates that he expected them to go out and face their enemies and not panic “before them.”

If the Children of Israel didn’t go out to fight, they would have been stuck wandering around the wilderness for another 40 years. That’s what got their ancestors in trouble. These people were the descendants of the original Israelites who God rescued out of Egypt, the ones who choked when they had the chance to stand up. Moses wanted their children to do better.

We will all face challenges every day. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’re doing or where we’re going, everyone will be challenged. Maybe it will be a faith issue. Maybe it will be a physical task. Maybe it will be a health problem. The possibilities are as endless as people themselves. And we’ll all have the choice to face the enemy or run away. And once we choose to face the enemy, we’ll have the option to panic.

Don’t.

Why? Because if you belong to God, He has already run ahead of you and prepared a path to victory for you. If you are following God, if you are doing what He has called you to do, He will open doors for you that couldn’t have possibly opened on their own. And when you come to face your enemy, you will find that God has already prepared you for what you’re facing. And if the God of the universe has personally prepared you for battle, there’s no chance you’re going to lose. Maybe it won’t feel like you’ve won right away. Not all victories feel like victories. But if God is on your side, you can’t lose.

So when you’re standing face to face with your enemy, whoever that might be, and you start thinking about how much bigger-stronger-taller-smarter-more-successful he or she might be, remind yourself of who God is and what God has promised you.

Don’t panic and remember Deuteronomy 31:6.