Cardinal in the pines at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Something to remember

What’s the big deal about rejoicing anyway? The Bible says over and over again that we need to rejoice, and Philippians is full of instances where Paul says to be joyful, be joyful, be joyful.

And I get that we need to be joyful because it will help our perspective. I get that we need to rejoice in difficult circumstances because it will help other people be encouraged. And deep down inside I understand that difficult circumstances come to help us grow and to remind us that this world isn’t home. But there are days when it still feels like an exercise in futility to continue rejoicing when nothing seems to go right.

So on those days when it’s difficult to find joy in anything, maybe we need to remember one important fact.

Cardinal in the pines at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Cardinal in the pines at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Philippians 4:4-5.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Maybe this doesn’t bring comfort to you like it does to me, but the idea that the Lord is coming soon is enough to make me jump for joy.

I’ve read this set of verses many times, and every time before I have split them up into two statements: An admonishment to rejoice always and instructions to be considerate because God will be coming back soon. But when I read it this morning, I read it differently.

I’m not a Bible scholar, so maybe it wasn’t intended this way. But what if it’s three statements on how to live instead of two? Rejoice. Be considerate. Remember.

Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

What if that little tag on the end of that verse isn’t a warning like I’ve always thought it was? I’ve always read it like Paul is saying we need to be considerate or else. Rejoice and put others first, or else God will get you when He comes back soon.

But this morning that’s not how it sounds.

Rejoice always. Making this choice is great for our focus and our perspective.

Be considerate. Making this choice is great for our relationships with others.

Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Remember, the Lord is coming soon, so when you don’t feel like rejoicing, you still have something to rejoice about. Remember, the Lord is coming soon, so when you’re so bogged down with your own troubles that you can’t invest in others for a time, you still have something to look forward to.

With the pressures of daily life and the stress of just living, it’s so easy to forget that God is going to come back for us. It’s so easy to get buried in this life and think this is all there is. But this isn’t all there is. This world isn’t home. God is preparing a place for us that defies explanation, and we will get to live there with Him for all eternity, along with the others who have gone before us in Christ. No more sickness. No more pain. No more night. No more suffering. No more conflict or stress or tension.

That is our home. Not this broken, worn down shell of a world that we turned over to Satan thousands of years ago.

Yes. Rejoice always. That’s not an option. When everything goes wrong, rejoice. When everything goes right, rejoice. Choose to have an attitude that makes you unsinkable.

And be considerate of other people. Put others first. Help others succeed. Encourage others. Be there for others.

But above all else, remember, the Lord is coming soon. The world won’t go on like this forever, and when the ticking clock of Time itself finally winds down, all of us who know Christ will get to go on living with Him.

The little annoying troubles in life are just pebbles in our shoes as we’re walking home. Yeah, they’re irritating, but they’re just little things. And, yes, little things can add up until the sum of them feels like a big thing, but that’s perspective. Because even a mountain of pebbles is still insignificant compared to what God can do with faith the size of a mustard seed.

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The mailbox between the road and the driveway yesterday morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The world is not enough

I get tired of the world. I get tired of living in such a broken place, where what used to be good is now called and what used to be bad is now called good. I get frustrated because I know things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. Marriages aren’t supposed to break up. People aren’t supposed to hurt each other. The things that are broken in the world were never intended to be broken, and it’s easy to get depressed thinking about it.

I hate to see people hurting, and I get so tired of having to overcome obstacle after obstacle in my own life when I don’t feel like I’ve really done anything to deserve it. You know? You live the way you’re supposed to. You read your Bible. You keep the faith. You treat others the way you want to be treated. You love God. You love people. And everything still goes wrong. Why is that? What point could there possibly be to living like that?

I got to thinking this morning that if everything went our way, we could be pretty comfortable down here. Aside from the obvious strengths we gain when we go through struggles, what we need to remember when life falls apart is that we don’t belong here. We weren’t made for this life.

The mailbox between the road and the driveway yesterday morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The mailbox between the road and the driveway yesterday morning at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Philippians 3:20-21.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Some days it’s easy to remember that this world isn’t home. On those days, I would like nothing more for Christ to descend from the clouds and take us away. But then there are other days when I’m not thinking about that. There are other days when I’m pretty happy just where I am, with no one rocking the boat, with nobody reminding me of any higher purpose, when it’s just me and the world and I’m okay with that. And that’s not a good place to be.

Don’t misunderstand. Being content is important. Being content with what you have is essential. But being content is different than being comfortable. We shouldn’t be comfortable in the world because when you get right down to the heart of the mater, the world isn’t going to agree with people who follow Christ. And while I blogged about agreeing to disagree yesterday and how that’s all right (and it absolutely is), disagreement still causes conflict. It always has; it always will. And if your perspective isn’t shaped by the grace and love of the Holy Spirit, many times a disagreement is going to turn to outright anger and resentment. If you know your history, you know it’s true.

The world disagrees with us. Part of the world resents us. And the rest of the world hates us. And, just being real here, the parts of the world that don’t hate Christ followers yet, soon will. Why? Well, the Bible says they will. Because the world hated Jesus, so why would we expect different treatment when we are His followers?

It’s good to be content with what you have, with what God has given you. But that doesn’t give you permission to be comfortable. Being comfortable means you’ve settled in for the long haul. It means you’ve got your head down. It means you’re ignoring the signs around you that are trying to spur you into action. Being comfortable means you’ll stop growing, stop learning, stop seeking, stop trying. Being comfortable means you think the world is enough.

And to quote James Bond, “The world is not enough.”

We aren’t supposed to have a comfortable, easy life on Earth because Earth isn’t our final destination. Christian, do you get that? We aren’t supposed to hoard all our money and resources so we can sit back in our easy chairs with our remote controls and our cups of coffee and watch television all day long. We were designed for more than that.

I get comfortable. I have that dubious gift of being able to block stuff out and power through with my own goals and ignore everything else around me, and it’s not always a good thing. God put me here for a purpose, and as long as the world is broken, He has something for me to do. And if I’m so comfortable in my own little kingdom, I’m never going to venture out into the places where He wants me to go.

So take a good look at your perspective this morning. Are you angry because life isn’t working out the way you thought it would? Are you frustrated because the obstacles in your path seem unfair and inversely proportional to the life you’ve lived?

Good. Because the more uncomfortable we are, the easier it is to remember that this world isn’t our home.

So get your head up. Pay attention. And get uncomfortable.