There’s something better on the other side

The light in my upstairs landing burned out a few months ago. A burned out light bulb in the city is one thing. The ambient light from outside often illuminates the inside of a house enough to see by, but out here in the country? Everything is always pitch black, until there’s a full moon.

Burned out light bulbs have always been interesting to me because they don’t look much different from a new light bulb. At least with the old incandescent bulbs, you could shake them to hear if the filament was dislodged. But with the new curlicue bulbs, I haven’t figured out how to look at one and determine if it works or not.

They look like they should work just fine, but when you actually try to use them, they’re broken.

bulbToday’s verse is Hebrews 13:14.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

Have you ever realized how broken our world is? Maybe it looks fine on the outside, but in practical use, nothing works the way it’s supposed to? It’s one thing to know it. It’s something else to experience it, to watch your friends experience it, to see the pain and the suffering it causes.

Just turn on the television. Just listen to the radio. Spend an hour talking to someone at work or at school or at church. Everybody’s broken, but the world is more broken than any of us.

It’s so sad because God designed this world to function in a certain way. He put processes and rules and laws in place when He created it, and while all of those processes and rules and laws are still working, they have to use pieces that are falling apart.

It’s like our own lives, our relationships. Two perfect people would never find themselves on opposite sides. They’d always understand what the other was saying, and they’d never try to hurt each other. But nobody’s perfect. So in this world, our friendships and relationships of all kinds have to be built with imperfect materials.

We’re all insecure. We’re all afraid. We’re all jealous. How do you build a lasting relationship when the base materials you have to use are only good for tearing things apart? Maybe you could build a beautiful home with a horrible foundation, and maybe it will look perfect–but the first storm that comes along will bring it crashing down because it doesn’t work. It was broken from the start.

There are days when I know God can fix anything. There are moments when I believe that God is the restorer and can mend hearts and relationships and families and friendships. And I don’t doubt that. I’ve never doubted that. And I’ve seen Him do miracles more than once.

But is our world really worth fixing? Have you really thought about that? I mean, it would be wonderful if He did, but if you read Scripture, you understand that the way everything is falling apart isn’t a surprise. If you know the Bible, you know this global rebellion against God was coming. Maybe it’s not what God wanted for us, but it’s what has to happen before He can come back.

It’s so tempting to get attached to our lives here because they feel real. The taste of the coffee in my cup, the feel of the sunshine on my face in my upstairs office window, the smell of the apricots blossoming in the orchard. But it’s not real–not by God’s definition. It will all pass away in the end, and if I’m not invested in the things that are real, I’ll have nothing.

This world where we live isn’t our permanent home. It’s nobody’s permanent home. We will all live somewhere in eternity, but there are only two choices. And if you don’t choose one, that means you’re automatically choosing the other.

Jesus is real. Faith is real. Love is real. And the souls of the people around you are real. That’s what you should be investing in. You can spend all your money and all your time working to achieve a status or a goal the world says is admirable, but if God doesn’t say it’s worth it, it’s not.

Don’t get caught up in living in this world. Christ-follower or not, you’re not long for it. Not in comparison to forever.

But don’t be discouraged either. Our world is broken. People are broken. We’re all falling apart physically, emotionally, mentally. Nothing works the way it was supposed to, but that’s because this world isn’t our home. There’s something better on the other side, and that’s worth believing in.

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Spider webs in the sunlight at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Real is what you can’t see

You can’t see them very well, but the ground beneath the cedar trees in this photograph is layered with spider webs. I couldn’t get the light right to show how many there were, but you can see a few of them. But the only way to see them at all is with the sunlight. Without the sun setting behind them, I wouldn’t have noticed the light reflecting off the webs at all.

So if I didn’t see them, would that make them unreal? If I said that, you’d tell me I’m nuts. The spider webs in this photograph are real whether I can see them or not. So if that’s true with spider webs, why can’t people believe the same thing about following Christ?

Spider webs in the sunlight at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Spider webs in the sunlight at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 4:18.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

I don’t know why the human mind has trouble accepting the truth of something it can’t see. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t make it unreal, but for some reasons our brains aren’t wired that way. We have to experience it to understand it. It’s the whole “see it to believe it” mentality, and it’s prevalent in our world today (for everything except evolution, but that’s a different topic altogether).

Since when did people’s experiences dictate truth? I’ve never been to Japan, but I know Japan exists. I know people who’ve visited. I’ve read stories about it. I’ve seen it on a map and in photographs. But since I’ve never experienced it for myself, I could take the position that Japan isn’t real. Now, you’d tell me I’m crazy, because everyone knows Japan is real. And that’s the truth, whether I believe it’s true or not.

The way the world tells us to think is so backwards from what the Bible says. Every day the world tells us to believe our eyes, but that’s not how a Christ-follower is supposed to live. Actually, it’s the exact opposite.  The world would have us believe that real is physical, that it’s the things and people you can touch and see. But that’s a lie.

The things we see, the parts of life we can touch and feel, are temporary. Our bodies. Our possessions. None of it will last forever, and when you die, you can’t take any of it with you.  All of it will end.

Real is what you can’t see. The human soul. Love. The intangibles of following Christ are the things that you’ll never lose, even in eternity.

So how is that encouraging? Well, I can tell you that one thing I see a lot of is trouble. Financial trouble. Health trouble. Political trouble. And because all of those things are front and center in my vision, it’s easy to think that they’re real problems. But if real is what I can’t see, all of that is just a passing inconvenience. Why waste time focusing on any of it?

Real is what you can’t see. It’s people, not their bodies, their souls. It’s relationships. It’s families and friendships. Don’t focus on the temporary things that are just passing through; focus on the real, eternal parts of life.

You can’t see them normally. You have to look for them using the Bible as a filter. The Bible reveals life and living in a whole new light, sort of like the perfect angle of a sunset can reveal a patch of ground layered in invisible spider webs.

Just because you can see it doesn’t make it real. The trouble you’re going through right now is temporary, so don’t waste time thinking about it. Focus instead on what will last forever. Your relationship with Christ. Your friends and family. Love.  Your troubles won’t go away, but they will get easier to handle because your perspective will change.

Dead sunflower in the pasture

When you don’t want to wake up in the morning, check your perspective.

Do you ever get tired of life, of following the same routine morning after morning? I do the same things every day, I accomplish everything that’s on my plan, but I hardly ever accomplish anything I really want. Just getting through the day takes so much energy that I rarely have the strength to get to the things I really want to do.

Some days it can be hard to just keep going, to persist in doing what you know is right when you can’t see a purpose in it.

Dead sunflower in the pasture

Dead sunflower in the pasture - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

So much of life is perspective. So much of surviving and thriving on earth is perspective. If you can maintain the right perspective, you can get through any challenge. If you can remember that going to the dentist is good for you even though it’s uncomfortable, you can prevent painful and dangerous oral surgeries. If you can remember that going the speed limit is right even though it’s inconvenient, you can prevent getting a ticket or causing an accident.

Perspective is everything.

Spring is going to get here eventually. Some folks say it’s here already, but I think it’s just Kansas screwing with us. But at some point, the tilt of the earth is going to spin us into warmer temperatures and longer days. But until then, it’s dark and cold(ish). And we have a choice. We can view the winter as the season where we hunker down and try to stay warm until spring begins and doing the right thing becomes comfortable and convenient again, or we can keep doing the things we know are right even if it means we might be cold.

When you’re tired, it’s easy to be tempted to give up. When you’ve been pulled in so many directions at once and had so much demanded from you, it’s easy to blame other people for your inability to complete the tasks you’ve been assigned. But is it right?

Giving up is the easy way out. And easy rarely is the same as right.

According to this passage, the difficulties that we’re experiencing in this life are small and temporary. I know some days they don’t feel small and temporary; they feel huge and permanent. But check your perspective. In comparison to eternity, they’re nothing. In comparison to what we will gain in eternity by persevering, they’re just a little bump in the road.

And we can choose to focus on the problems and insurmountable odds that we encounter on a daily basis. Or we can choose to focus on what God has said about the problems and insurmountable odds that we encounter on a daily basis. They’re small and they don’t last very long and by enduring them, we will receive glory that outweighs and outlasts them.

We can choose to see only the troubles that we see every day. Or we can choose to look beyond them and focus on what good they might do in our lives to come. Because according to this verse, the things we see are going to end, and the things we can’t see yet will last forever.

Perspective. It’s all about perspective. It changes everything.