Monday, September 26, 2011

Laboring for Heaven

I know we all wonder why we endure certain hurts and sufferings. I know I have. Specifically I have wondered why I have lost so many special people who are close to me. I have mentioned before that from a young age I have dealt with death. Maybe that is why this question comes up so often for me. I won’t go through all the deaths I’ve been through, but I feel you need to know some that have made the biggest impact on me. When I was 14 a young man in our church youth group was killed in a car accident. He and I were very good friends. He was 18 and only a month from graduating High School. This was very difficult on a 14-year-old girl, and a small youth group who had a hard time grasping why God would take such a young man. By the time I was 20 I had only one grandparent left. When I was in my early thirties God took her home. Not long after that he took home my sister’s husband who was only 33. Then, when I 43 my precious daddy met Jesus. I have to admit this was the hardest loss I have ever endured. I miss my daddy every day! To this day, almost 3 years later, I don’t understand why God took him when He did. What I do know is I serve a sovereign God and He has a purpose for all He does and I can trust HIM. So I will. As I learn and grow in His word He teaches me. This week He has given me a new perspective on the question, “Why have I lost so many special people close to me?”

Recently I’ve been learning, and trying to put into practice that EVERYTHING is to Glorify God. Ephesians 1:12 “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” This means I am to be “to the praise of his glory”, me, my life, always, no matter the circumstances. The Christian life is NOT about circumstances it’s about Jesus! Living a life glorifying Him!

I heard a quote from author Sam Storms that really struck me, that as I live this life I should “Labor to be much acquainted with heaven.” Did you catch that, “Labor”, what comes to mind when you think of the word labor? Let’s get real, I think of 2 things:

  1 Working really, really hard on something, like construction workers
     out in the Texas heat of 110o
  2   A woman about to give birth to a baby

Now I could paint a pretty vivid picture of either one of those scenarios, but I won’t, because I think you get the idea. He is talking about working hard, REALLY hard. Sam Storms is suggesting that we, as Christians should search out scriptures and get ourselves VERY familiar with Heaven. Have you done that? Have I done that? I don’t know what your answer is, but I know that mine is no.

We’ve all heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, "The only things certain in life are death and taxes." If you’re a Christian, you know this verse,
Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” No matter what else occurs in life, we all know we are going to die. Benjamin Franklin knew it, the author of Hebrews knew it and you and I know it today. Knowing it about ourselves and accepting it about our loved ones sometimes are two very different things. Am I right? I know that one day I will die and go to Heaven, I find a certain peace in that. However, the thought of my husband, daughter, son, mom, sister, brother or others close to me, preceding me in going to Heaven, makes me a bit uneasy. Should it? NO! I should find just as much peace in knowing they will be with my Savior, as I find in knowing, I will be with my Savior!

So what is wrong with me? I believe I have not set my affections on things above. Colossians 3:1&2  1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Of course this is talking about the things of God. Now back to what I mentioned earlier about laboring to get ourselves acquainted with Heaven. What is Heaven? Jesus’ home. As we get to know Jesus more and more, and draw closer to him that is how we get to know Heaven. Not by learning about the streets of Gold and the gates of pearl. Because once we see Jesus all those THINGS, and YES they are just THINGS, will pale by comparison!!!

Now you may be saying, “How has this given you a new perspective on why you have lost so many close to you?” Well when I heard that quote from Sam Storms I couldn’t help but think about those who have gone on before me. I don’t know about you but anytime anyone mentions Heaven, my first thought goes to those who are already there. Honestly, that’s pretty sad. My Lord and Savior, the one who gave His life for me, the one who is to be my number 1 priority is there. Yet all I can think of is my daddy, my brother-in-law, my grandparents and others. That is when God reminded me of Philippians 1:20-22 “20as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.” So I am working on keeping my perspective of losing the ones I love as it would be with me, Living means living a life for Christ, Dying means gaining eternity with HIM! Their lives can continue to be witness for Christ even after death by the life they lived for Christ and by where they are now worshiping our Savior forever! They are now my example!

Living in Grace,

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