A new homework assignment from the discipleship group with Pastor Chris. "How are you dancing with eternity?" I reflected on how eternity is and should be affecting how I live my life. Here are my musings:
Eternity has been at the forefront of my mind for awhile now as I have been diving into a Bible study on this very topic. I figured this assignment would be a breeze. But that was before I really started thinking about it. The more I’ve jumped into this study on eternity, the greater my struggle has become. I have questioned my salvation, wondering if I will be shocked on the Judgment Day. I have cried out to God, asking, “Where are You?” and feeling utterly alone. And so I have danced with eternity, one day thrilled at the prospect of being with Jesus, another day, feeling the terror of wondering if I am even saved. Will Jesus look on me with sadness and disappointment on the Judgment Day or will He throw wide His arms and proclaim, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”?
The spirits of deceit, discouragement, and pride fill my head with lies saying, “You aren’t worthy,” “You screwed up too big this time,” “You can’t ask for help, people will look down on you.” NO! These are lies from the pit of hell. I am a child of God. I am forgiven and loved. I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame in His sight (Eph. 1:4). I have been redeemed and forgiven and I am a recipient of His lavish grace (Col. 1:14). I am God’s workmanship – His handiwork, His masterpiece – born anew in Christ to do His work (Eph. 2:10). I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ, and I have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge guaranteeing my inheritance to come (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:13-14). I am blameless and free from accusation (Col. 1:22). I have been saved and set apart according to God’s doing (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5). Just like Peter, I am not in need of a bath because I am clean in Christ, but there are parts of me that need to be washed, to be renewed and made clean by the blood of Christ (John 13:1-17). I am born of God so the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18).
And so I’ve been praying for freedom, persistently praying in the name of Jesus that the power of deceit, discouragement, and pride would be broken and banished from my life. And in the void that remains, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will fill me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
This past weekend, I was watching Lord of the Rings 3 – The Return of the King and I cried for about the last 20 minutes, much to the dismay of the friend I was with. :-) After all the struggle and pain and fear that Frodo had experienced, he couldn’t go on, the burden was too much and he collapsed. Sam picked him up, saying, “I can’t carry your burden, but I can carry you.” The tears flowed as I asked the Lord to carry me because I can’t do this on my own. When the ring went in the fire and the tower with the eye began to fall, I wept as I asked God to knock down the towers and strongholds in my life, to free me from those bonds, and to not let satan have the victory in my life. And as Frodo wrote the last of his story and prepared to board the ship, I wondered if my season of effectiveness was over. But even as that notion entered my head, I begged God to not give up on me, to not let me go but to empower me to press on in victory.
So when it comes to living in light of eternity, I could talk about not being idle but being purposeful in my use of time. I could stress the need to be conscious of word, deed, thought, and intention because we will be judged in each of those areas. I could talk about living with passion and joy, less complaining and more encouraging, less worry and more prayer. But those are mere words unless I first make it my highest priority to know Christ and to lay aside anything that distracts me from that goal and from accomplishing the call of God on my life. Because my hope is in Christ, I can let go of past guilt and eagerly anticipate what God is creating me to be. When I realize that I am forgiven, I can move forward in faith and obedience. I can trust God to work in me, to grow me from what I am to what I should be. Let me close with the words of Paul in Philippians 3:7-16 which so vividly describe where I am seeking to live:
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I am gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”