January 4, 2011

Moving Away From the Familiar

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.
Psalm 119:18-20

I have been slowly working my way through Psalm 119. Slowly meaning, a couple verses every now and then! I shouldn't be surprised at God's timing, but once again He has supplied fitting spiritual food during this Christmas season. This Christmas in particular, I have felt sad by the fact that this year we plan to leave all that is familiar to us: our wonderful extended family, our home, our church family, amenities we probably take for granted... certain possessions. The list probably goes on. Over the last couple of years, my perspective has turned more toward the eternal, but I am finding myself having to go there even more! I am so thankful for this reminder in Psalms and elsewhere in Scripture (Hebrews 11) that earth is not our permanent home. We are aliens here. As much as we may desire to belong somewhere, or make "home" wherever we are on earth, we will never belong here on earth. God created us as eternal beings, and we will end up in an eternal place. And we are told, very clearly, that the earth is not it.

So why do I sometimes resist what is unfamiliar? Why do I crave a sense of belonging somewhere? Why do I see people spending their lives building treasures on earth when we will end up moving away from it ultimately?

In Hebrews, after the writer honors some faithful OT patriarchs for their faith, he says, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were looking for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (Heb. 11:13-16)

These passages have caused me to ask these questions:
Do I think of my home here as temporary?
Am I seeking to build something of great value here on earth?
Do I have a heavenly eternal view?
Do my traditions, "normals," sentimental thoughts, hinder me from looking forward to what God has prepared for me to do on earth?

What am I to do with my sentiments and nostalgia? Is it from God? Why do we have this strong emotional feeling? Is this something our culture feeds through the media and movies and songs? I don't want to grow old thinking about the "good old days," as so many do. How is dwelling on how good we thought life once was demonstrating our eternal longing for Jesus?

As I enter the new year with so many unknown ahead of me as our family follows God's calling into overseas missions in Madagascar, Africa - I want to practice having an eternal view! Our lives here are but a blink of an eye when compared to the everlasting life we have in Christ Jesus.

Maybe you have some thoughts on this....

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