LASTing Peace, God I Trust You For Eternity–Just Not Today

I wonder if it’s a common malady among modern Christians to assume that Christ’s only interest in us, or benefit to us, is eternal life. Do we live that way?
That’s not the Jesus of the Bible.

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Now is bleeding into eternity

As I sit here, my littlest sister is laboring to bring Henry Jordan Martin into the big wide world. I was just there, just visiting Texas, hoping against realism that Henry would come while I was there, but alas, he was simply waiting for me to leave.

This brings me full circle, to ponder the chapter I read in C.S. Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce, last night. At the same time, it highlights a recent Facebook post by a man I have admired for most of my life.

Just a brief background:
Harold Ray Wells, is the father of two of my best friends growing up. What time wasn’t spent in our home around the school desk was often enjoyed in their living room eating breadsticks and homemade cheese sauce, in the backyard harvesting honeysuckle and stalking slugs, at church with them or on vacation with them at Grand Lake.

Mr. Wells was my parents’ Sunday school teacher. He exuded a poise that comes only from being inhabited by the Holy Spirit. He was quiet, intentional, relaxed, happy and peaceful. He was almost an enigma to me as a child, How does he do that?

My heart was crushed when I learned a few years back that he had been falsely accused of a crime. As a police officer nearing retirement and with a stellar reputation, the charges seemed rubber, ridiculous and contrived as they were, we prayed that the lies would bounce off of him and shatter on the floor at the feet of his accusers. God hasn’t seen fit to let that happen. So Mr. Wells is now in prison, awaiting response to his appeal.

Frequently, those of us who pray for him are privy to pieces of his journals and letters that he sends out to encourage us – imagine – him encouraging us. Reminds you of Paul, right?

“Waiting for the love of my life to visit and listening to ‘interludes’. I was thinking that just as I am unworthy of prison, to a much greater reality I’m unfit for paradise. How can I ever complain when both are gifts and both must be received with thanksgiving? Knowing both are divine appointments, designed that God might be glorified. One is temporary and one is eternal. When does ‘eternal’ take place? Before today, before yesterday? If eternal life with God (as Charles Stanley points out) happens the moment we trust God – then could it be that our resurrected life begins at that time and what does that mean? This life, with all it involves, has no power, ownership, or control over us. We are buried with Him in baptism, raised/resurrected with Him to walk in newness of life – a glorified life in a fallen world. The evidence of Christ in you – NOW. How do I do this? Through the crucible of life. I feel as if I am in the 4th quarter of the life testing. What am I made of? Who am I? Who is God? I am experiencing the overwhelming, surrounding knowledge of God’s blessings.”

I added the bolding, because that’s the question I want to address.

When does ‘eternal’ take place?

Consider Lewis’ reference to those on a trial run to Heaven as “ghosts”. And when he treads upon the terra firma of that land, he finds it’s foliage more solid than himself.

The grass, hard as diamonds to my unsubstantial feel, made me feel as if I were walking on wrinkled rock, and I suffered pains like those of the mermaid in Hans Andersen. A bird ran across in front of me and I envied it. It belonged to that country and was as real a the grass.

Most of the time, most people press through this atmosphere, feel the rush of it against their skin and believe that they are real, that where they are and what they do is real. And, even most Christians act as if we won’t live forever. Our habits and decisions are refined to exploit today, and fend off the ultimate end of our personal worlds.

But what if eternal has already begun? What if we will only become more real over time, through long walks with God, through intimate conversations with Jesus and solemn attentiveness to the Holy Spirit? What if we don’t need to squeeze every drop of pleasure out of this moment, because we anticipate endless moments, ever better,  stretched through the expanse of eternity?

What if?

Do Something… or die

I grew up with the understanding that evangelism is important – people need to know that Jesus is not only the assurance of eternal life, but that He makes this life worth living. In the throes of my eating disorder, I was absolutely ready and willing to kill myself, check out, be done with it all. If not for Jesus, who gave me an underlying assurance of hope and peace, I would have died. If starving had not stopped my heart, I would have done it intentionally.

It wasn’t so much that Christians are always saying, “suicide is a sin,” I mean once I’m dead, what do I care? But it was something about this Jesus, something about His companionship in my pain, that made me want to try life one more day, one more day at a time.

Then I married a soldier. My personal soldier isn’t very vulnerable, and it’s been rare when he let me in his private fears. I did notice a heightened sense of mortality and sobering responsibility when he was deployed and in command. He felt the burden of not only his soldiers’ lives but their eternity. He places a great burden on the Army chaplains to do their job boldly and with an acute awareness of the personalities and needs of their audience.

His most recent assignment has been at Arlington Cemetery. Again, a place and situation where he is daily faced with death and often looks into faces of people who clearly have no hope. What then? Can we allow the very men and women who are willing to die for our freedoms – can we allow them to enter the battlefield without having done everything possible to offer them the assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ?

I am an avid reader of Table Talk Magazine. As a subscriber, I was recently made aware of an opportunity to arm our military chaplains with unique resources to share the gospel during deployments and in garrison. Given the recent assaults  on religious freedom in the military, fully arming chaplains with useful resources is both helpful to their efforts and encouraging to them personally.

Here is an opportunity, presented by Ligonier Ministries through their chaplain support program, to care for the souls of soldiers. It’s time we did more than verbally espouse our support for the military, fasten yellow magnets to our cars, or shake a soldier’s hand at church. Care more. Do more. Do something!

GIVE HERE. 

Book Review, Day 2

We are continuing to review Michael Leehan’s book, How Satan’s Solider Became God’s Warrior.  If you missed it, go back and read Monday’s post for an introduction. 

I found it startling that on a daily basis, Leehan wasn’t so different from you and me. He studied and went to college. He dated and married, had kids and divorced. He started his own successful business and was socially accepted by his neighbors and friends. Leehan even went to church with his girlfriend. The Bible tells us that Satan is the master of deception.

I began to wonder how deceived I might be – in a very different way, but perhaps just as deceived as Leehan was. In Ephesians 6, God tells us that we do not war against flesh and blood but against the rulers and authorities of darkness. But do I live like that?

Daily, I confess, I live a myopic life. I tend to believe that from the moment I wake, all my choices are my own and I make them dependent upon what will best serve my purposes. If I’m feeling especially altruistic, I will think about what will make my husband happy or how to meet my friend’s need. But I regularly fail to see myself as an eternal being whose actions today have eternal consequences now and forever.

 A couple things I did realize: we are not alone in our little biospheres – and we really never have complete privacy. Someone or something is always peering into the minute world of our experience.

After years of seeking and experiencing spiritual prowess and knowledge, it became apparent to me that we are truly spirit beings just on this earth for a short season…I knew with certainty the spiritual realm was more alive and active that the world I was born into.

That quote puts a lot of things in perspective. Here at Predatory Lies, I confess on a regular basis the shallowness of my daily concerns. I spent (and continue to struggle to refocus) 15 years trying to create and maintain my perfect earthly body. You can relate your own terrestrial worries to this truth; but I assume with few exceptions that most people muddle along with their minds buried deep in issues that have nothing to do with their souls.

How Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior demolishes this misconception. It is a  book-length anecdote that will startle you awake to the certainty of eternal life. Where will you spend it?