Heaven is Waiting for Us, [Anticipation]

There is a place…

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven,  Hallowed be Your name.”

 Matthew 6:9

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 3:20

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”

– CS Lewis, The Last Battle

We often struggle.  Life frustrates us and we really don’t understand why it seems so bitter and confusing.  There doesn’t seem to be any way to get an answer.  The scriptures open up for us at this point.  The answer is ‘heaven’.  Heaven is a promise from Jesus to you.  In that light of heaven we are to live our life anticipating that place.

The assurance of heaven is, is to lift us, and then connect us to that which is eternal.  On earth, life is to a degree, intriguing.  There is, in spite of many conflicts and issues, a certain random pleasure in our lives.  We seem to know that our existence here  is somewhat charmed.  But believe it or not, heaven is so much more, its going to be a ‘kick in the pants’.

The reality of ‘heaven’ is what keeps us moving.  Heaven is the realm in which our Father dwells.  From heaven there is a concerted effort to hold and maintain us as we stumble through life.  Heaven is the provision that is given to faithful hearts who are being transformed by grace.

I hold on to this feeble life because I know and understand the glory of heaven.  Heaven is the place where glory is at home, and heaven is the magnetic pull that will lead me into eternity.  If I am looking for a connection to something way beyond my senses, heaven gives me that wonderful reality. Heaven is where the Lord Jesus is enthroned and is waiting.  When we are once again united with Him, it will be in heaven.

The idea of heaven holds us and inspires us as we try to figure out our walk of discipleship.  It is that promise that compels us, and brings us into a spiritual compatibility.  He is reaching out for us as we are pressing to meet Him.  The very hope of heaven turns our head, and lifts up our vision.  Jesus is the Lord of heaven and He gives us the privilege to dwell in the place where He is.

Heaven is the place where I really belong.  There is nothing that can take its place.  Heaven is a place where all of the redeemed will find a homecoming.  This is where we belong.  Eternity is the force which drives heaven, it is not a ‘static’ place or an existence above time.

Our decision to abide in eternity gives the Father great joy.  He is anticipating our arrival with a great deal of joy.  Heaven will help us forget all the tribulation of our lives here on earth.  It will seem like a bad dream as we step into eternal reality.  Brethren, we are standing on the threshold of eternal life.  Let us press into it, where joy and peace will ambush us in a special kind of wonderful grace.

P.S. I had fun with today’s artwork. The rabbits seem thrilled, and their joy is palatable. 🙂

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When Brutality Smashes Into Grace

photo, by Jonny Jelnek- Flickr
photo, by Jonny Jelnek- Flickr

“Or God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds,
with ceaseless aching in their bones.” 

Job 33:19, NLT

“Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.  Your greatest ministry will most likely come out of your greatest hurt.” 

Rick Warren

There really is not anything I can say about your pain that will make you feel better.  Words and counsel are almost always pathetically weak. Many will want to speak to you, they mean well, but seem to lack authenticity and wisdom.

Pain, in every way is always evil and dark.  I have friends who struggle with migraines, and others with Lou Gehrig disease.  A few friends have been incredibly injured, with bad disabilities.  Some have severe diabetes and one has a degenerative hip syndrome.  A dear elderly saint is in her later stages of Alzheimer’s. One of my friends has cerebral palsy. I had very close friend who just died with colon cancer.  Pain has been a constant companion to them. It is a definite issue.  And yet, there are also terrible mental disorders– and vicious schizophrenia, depression, and frightening paranoia that cripples them, they need medication.

We who hurt deeply, have an option of growing into gentle people.  Gentleness is not a given, in so many ways it is earned.  Not in the sense of attaining something, but “experiencing” something.  Our pain drips down on us while we sleep, and we discover we start caring about others, which is new.  Tears of love, mercy and grace begin to flow, often coming after years of stoic hardness.

“Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings.” 

Exodus 3:7

Having to live for the rest of your normal life with this pain can be horrifying, and incomprehensible.

God’s grace does meet us, we find.  But there are some moments of empty desperation.  So few understand, and even fewer can help.  Some have asked me if I had the faith to be healed.  But, doesn’t it take just as much faith to be ill? Think about it.

If you had never known afflictions in your own life, how do you think that you can touch those ‘nail-scarred’ hands which Jesus meets you with?  And the apostles, and all those martyrs from every generation in an unbroken line of suffering.  Grace grows considerably faster from a bed of pain.  It has our Father’s “Miracle Grow” in it.

Some should try to readjust themselves.  Faith doesn’t always lead us to sweet victory; but it does lead us to obedience.  And when it grows this way, sometimes victory will come.  But our Father places such a premium price on our obedience.  When we hurt, we grow.

“Ah, afflicted one, your disabilities were meant to unite with God’s enablings, your weakness to combine with His power. God’s grace is at hand –sufficient– and at its best when human weakness is most profound. Appropriate it and learn that those who wait on God are stronger in their weakness than the sons of men in their stoutest health and vigor.”

F.B. Meyer

“He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”

Aeschylus

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The Plight of the Impulsive Christian, [Danger]

“Unstable as water, you shall nimpulsivetiggerot have preeminence.”

Genesis 49:4

Walking on water is easy to someone with impulsive boldness, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is something altogether different. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he “followed Him at a distance” on dry land.” (Mark 14:54)

Oswald Chambers

Peter was bold, rash, and impulsive.  That explains so much. It also describes a people who are often morally and spiritually “out-of-control”.  This can startle us, but as we think on it we must admit a certain attachment to it. The impulsiveness symptom describes much of our actions, and our personal direction. We are something of a “loose cannon’ and we can deeply frighten people who know us.

Those of us who struggle with mental illness must often deal with impulsiveness.  We find ourselves turning so quickly.  We do those things which will later destroy us.  Self-destruction is so close to us.  It’s like we are “playing” ‘Russian Roulette,’ (but we seem to like it, we would have it no other way).

But our soul is constantly loved and watched over. 

He cares for us as a Father cares for His son.  As mortals we make a lot of choices.  Some maybe godly, many are not.  We often find ourselves out of control, because we choose so poorly.  We act impulsively or rashly, and we try to negate the Grace of our God.  We know it is wrong (so much cries out against it)  but we do it anyway, no matter what. We are often ashamed of our impulsiveness.

There is a lot out there, that will side-track us. So many choices, and opportunities.  And the Deceiver will parade them all in front of us.  Sin is as seductive as we let it be.  I remember a friend saying, “It can’t take me if I don’t want to go.”  It’s up to us to develop a commitment to what we know is true.

But impulsiveness will tear us apart.  When it resides in our heart, it will eventually destroy us.  It’s like uncontrolled nuclear fission within us, it takes over.  We will find ourselves out-of-control, it seems to take us  beyond human help.  Once we are in this state, we are completely unreasonable.

We think we are just spontaneous people.  But our decision-making is dangerous.

But in my impulsiveness, I can often see His faithfulness.

It seems as we choose the worst  we’re degraded us the most.  We make these sudden decisions without the Spirit’s guidance.  They take us to places we otherwise never dare to go.  We find ourselves in an ugly and lost depravity.  We chose wrongly, and usually without considering the results of our choice.

When we are impulsive, we are like a ship without an anchor.  We go with the wind and the current, pushed along and directed by no one.  We think we are spontaneous, when all we are only desperately foolish.  We turn to our crew, but they just accept whatever the captain directs. We’ve chosen to sail into forbidden waters.

We face the reality of being ship-wrecked.

As a mentally ill person, I simply can’t direct myself in a God honoring way apart from His active hand.  I’m a just ‘a kid out of school’– unable to understand the eternal issues at stake.  Instead of abandoning myself to the vacillating foolishness of my heart, I determine I choose the solidity of the Spirit.

I refuse to degrade and destroy myself by my wrong choices.  The Holy Spirit keeps comforting and encouraging me, all with an endurance and persistence far beyond my reasoning.  He is relentless in His pursuit of me.  In my impulsiveness, I can often see His faithfulness. He has it within Himself to free us from these forces that would tear me apart.

 

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