“Only one life, ‘twil soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” My grandparents posted this saying in their home and conducted their lives by it. Yesterday, reading the fourth chapter of Micah, I realized I hadn’t thought about such things deliberately, thoughtfully, for a while. The truth about the brevity of here and now often takes a back seat to the earthly things that drive my days. I recall repeated conversations with high school English students in a similar vein, like this sample.
Student: Gonna have my own auto body shop. Won’t be writin’ any papers there.
Me: Body shop? Need customers to come to your place instead of others, right?
Student: (Pauses) Facebook! Maybe some flyers?
Me: Great ideas! Who’s writing your copy?
Student: My what?
Me: All the writing you want to put on social media and flyers. Needs to be error-free, eye-catching. Not too wordy. You can’t use dull words cause then people might stop reading after the first line.
Student: Well, I guess I’ll find a wife by then and make her do it. (Laughter from all)
Many times, I dealt with myopic students who couldn’t envision the use of language skills in real life. Some focused on being the next great sports legend in need of two skills, throwing balls and granting interviews. The college bound students going into the sciences, couldn’t see the relevance of composition and speech. Others aimed towards technology or trade, couldn’t understand how strong writing and speaking skills could help them achieve their goals.
Although these students knew that high school only lasted four years, they didn’t live that way. They created an existence that made high school their world, instead of the short journey of education and experience it’s intended to be. I’m not throwing stones, because I believe I’ve lived the same mistake on a grander scale.
Theologian Dwight Pentecost stated that there are more verses in scripture about the time period we call the millennium than any other time period discussed in the Bible. I didn’t know that and maybe you didn’t either. Why? Most verses about the thousand-year reign are found in the Old Testament prophets. These books don’t often turn up in Bible studies and sermons. I wonder if that’s partly why God spoke to me about pedaling my way through the minor prophets in my blog this year?
When I consider my earthly life as only a launch pad, my perspective about my resources shifts. My concern about lost souls sliding towards a God-less eternity, becomes motivating to engage with them authentically so I earn the right to share the truth about Jesus. Every time I am confronted in some way with the mortality of this body and the eternity of my soul, my “whys” restore their focus back to heaven’s priorities.
Why write my blog? To inspire and encourage other believers in their faith and motivate them to also engage with the unsaved. Building a platform so that a publisher will pick up my book becomes a secondary goal, instead of primary.
Why labor to landscape around my house? To create places of refreshment for people to relax in and reflect on the wonder of God’s designs. Wanting the beauty of gardens for myself and a supply of cut flowers simply for my own enjoyment isn’t as motivating.
When I first began writing, I started a novel which may still be completed someday. The story idea comes from my grandparents’ experiences in full-time ministry. I dreamed of a series of novels, beloved in the same way as Jan Karon’s “Mitford” series, filled with quirky, endearing characters.
There’s a place for well-written Christian fiction which brings laughter to the heart and causes us to reflect on our relationships. That’s an eternity-minded why, but it wasn’t mine. Mine was far more narrow and self-oriented. Last Spring, at a writer’s conference, God challenged me with the question, “What if I helped you write a different book for now?” He gently reminded me that heaven’s agenda is greater than my small goals.
The book he re-directed me towards will be a collection of true stories from seasoned pastors and leaders about ministry’s unique challenges faced and navigated successfully. The heart of this book originates back to when my husband, Ken, and I first started full time service. Lots of goofy, painful things happened, which no one talked about in seminary or Bible school. Our inexperience, and lack of mentors, left Ken and I feeling lonely, constantly questioning our calling and gifts and attempting to leave ministry many times.
The goal is to make a dent in the number of pastors leaving ministry each year and to encourage those in the trenches through the wisdom and counsel of experienced leaders. I become excited when I think about how many ministries and churches could be impacted positively, if their leaders didn’t feel so discouraged and lonely. See how God shifted my focus from dreams of my beloved books on library shelves to building up weary leaders?
God interrupted Micah’s crucial message about impending judgement, to write about the millennium. As high a priority as repentance is to God, he instructed his prophet to interject a sidebar about the life yet to come. God wanted the Israelites to consider the life he started preparing for them as soon as he shut the gates to Eden. He still wants his children to think about his long-term plans for us as we dream, plan and live.
The thought occurs to me that if our minds remained focused on heaven’s priorities and eternity’s viewpoint, we’d most likely find ourselves with a lot less repenting to do overall. What do you think?
Lamp and Sword
****Further resources for study and reflection****
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.” Hebrew 4:12
Here’s a link to an interesting article by Dr. David Jeremiah, well-known Bible teacher, about what he believes concerning the millenium.
You may come from a denomination that does not accept the millennium as a literal thousand-year reign. There are different theological points of view on this. That’s okay. The fact that there will be a new heaven and a new earth where we will rule with Christ eternally, is indisputable and should motivate us to live accordingly regardless of how or if you believe the thousand-year reign fits into that timeline. I’ve recommended this book before and will do so again. “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn, is a wonderfully written, theologically sound volume on all that Scripture teaches about our future lives with God. Understanding heaven better changed the way I view my current life and priorities.