Sunday, April 18, 2010

Farther Up and Further In

Several people have spoken with me in just the last few days about the end times. Every time there is a series of natural disasters believers tend to get a bit antsy and wonder if the end is truly near. We're suddenly motivated to read our Bibles again and pray. We promise we're going to start that Bible study book that's laying around...hmm...where did I put that book?

It's very similar to seeing one self in a picture and realizing "wow, I need to start working out and eating better." For a few days, weeks or even a month or two we're inspired to eat right and exercise. We're committed to changing permanently, and this time we'll stick to the program forever. But we don't see that picture every day and eventually there's a party and we'll just have one piece of cake. The urgency fades over time and suddenly...well Saturday is the only day I really have to sleep in so I'll exercise tomorrow. Finally we're back to our blissful ignorance (or at least feigned ignorance) and go back to life as usual.

Why is it that only big events challenge us to make life changing choices. A heart attack is a much more powerful motivator than that picture. The illness or death of a loved one, or becoming ill oneself has a way of helping us to focus on what is really important and discarding the meaningless.

As we walk with Christ it is easy to see the big obstacles as challenges that must be overcome through prayer and the seeking of our Lord, but what we often fail to realize is that those seemingly quiet bland moments are just as challenging or possibly more so. If I am faced with the illness of my child it takes little effort for me to remember to pray and seek the Lord constantly. Once my child is made well, that's when the real challenge begins. I must constantly remind myself to seek the Lord for even the small things. It is sometimes like pulling teeth to do a quiet time I just don't feel I have time for, though I made the time during the illness.

Being a Christian is an uphill battle. CS Lewis describes heaven in The Last Battle as being even more real than our reality. The further up and further in the Pevensie children traveled in the New Narnia the more clear and real it became. As we work out our salvation on this side of heaven we must constantly remind ourselves that we must also press on and climb farther up and further in. Farther up, strengthening our faith. And further in, relying more and more on the Lord (more of Him less of me).

Yes, the Lord is coming back. During WWII my grandparents were certain He would be returning soon, at least in their lifetime. Yet here we still are. It could be at any moment "in the blink of an eye", but we have to be careful to be preparing ourselves constantly for His return. We want to be those virgins who have their oil lamps trimmed and stand waiting for their Bridegroom to come for them. Let us be aware then of our great need to struggle through the uneventful boring moments. Let us not forget our great need for the Lord simply because there have been no earthquakes or tsunamis for a while. Let us be aware of the subtle seismic activities going on in our own hearts each moment we put God aside. And may we be ready for His return, whenever that may be. May we be ready to face this ever changing world with the confidence that Christ in us is our hope! May the Lord have mercy on us all.

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