Saturday, July 13, 2019

Ephemeral or Eternal?

Photo by Laurie Collett 2017
Dear Readers, I pray you are enjoying the summer, and may you enjoy this repost from the archives from a post I wrote in 2017

On our recent trip to Ireland, one of the major highlights was the majestic Cliffs of Moher, an amazingly beautiful display of God’s handiwork (Psalm 19:1). Each new vista of rock formations abutting the azure sea was more breathtaking than the previous panorama. Yet I was also struck by the sporadic handfuls of wildflowers dotting the cliff faces, springing up defiantly from crevices in the limestone.

God only knows how they got there, thriving luxuriantly where there seemed to be no soil or water to nourish them. He provides for lilies of the field and clothes them in greater splendor than the richest kings (Matthew 6:28-33), even though they will soon fade and wither away, leaving no trace of their former beauty (Isaiah 40:7; James 1:11).

On the other hand, the cliffs seem eternal, immovable, unchanging, as Christians should be in their service to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:58). Yet God’s Word tells us that the earth and even its elements will burn up with a fervent heat, so that He can renovate all in preparation for new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:10-12; Isaiah 65:17; 66:22). Only God (Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 1:8), His Word (Isaiah 40:8), and man’s eternal soul will never pass away.

Every human being will live forever. Those who have trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) will have eternal life in Heaven with Him and with their loved ones who have trusted Him as their Lord and Savior (John 3:16; 14:1-3).

But those who pass into eternity rejecting Him will also live forever, but not in Heaven. Their fate is eternal torment, as intense as the searing heat of a fresh burn, yet one that never abates (Jude 1:7; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Our life here is but a vapor, just a few days, and so short that we are not promised tomorrow (Job 14:1; James 4:14). May those who do not yet know Him trust Him before that door slams shut, and may those of us who trust Him have boldness and wisdom to witness to them of His infinite love (1 John 4:8) and saving grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

While we are here on earth, He will never leave nor forsake His children (Hebrews 13:5), and He will always provide for our physical needs (Psalm 37:25). Our Creator cares for even the weeds, nourishing them against all odds on a barren cliff, and without their having to work to clothe themselves (Matthew 6:28-33). He cares for the birds of the air (Matthew 10:29-31), and does He not care even more for each of us?

So why do we fret over our daily needs, and concern ourselves with the ephemeral, earthly cares and pleasures that vanish as quickly as the breath before our lips on a cold day? Should we not instead concern ourselves with the eternal? May we lay up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), which no one can steal from us and which nothing can destroy, and which we shall enjoy eternally!

The apostle Paul tells us that the good works we did with the right motive for the kingdom of God will emerge from His judgment fire more refined and pure, like gold, silver and precious stones, and that He will reward us for these. But those things we did grudgingly, or for money, pride, or for the praise of others, will burn up like wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

This week we were reminded once again of the transience of our human existence, as two elderly sisters in Christ went home to be with the Lord. Their lives, like those of any of us, were ephemeral, yet their legacy of faithfulness is eternal. Despite enduring nearly constant hardships involving physical health, family, and finances, they were faithful to be in church whenever the doors were open and to serve to the best of their ability (1 Corinthians 4:2).

I can imagine Jesus Himself welcoming them with open arms and greeting them with “Well done, thou good and faithful servant – enter now into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:21, 23) That joy will last forever, and I believe will begin with having Jesus tell them of all the children they taught in Sunday School who since were saved, for they had planted the seed of His Word (Luke 8:5-15) and His love in their hearts!

In this life they had very little that the world would envy. Yet they had the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and joy in their salvation (Psalm 51:12; Isaiah 61:10) that transcended all physical circumstances, and which are inaccessible until we are born again (John 3:3-8).

May those of us they left behind be inspired to follow their example, to serve joyfully and faithfully, and to work for eternal rewards, not ephemeral pleasures!

© 2017 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Photo by Laurie Collett 2017

Saturday, July 6, 2019

What If the Mayor Calls?

I had a dream in which I was attending a professional convention held at an elegant hotel, accompanied by my son, who in the dream was still a small child. We had checked in to a luxurious suite on the penthouse level, provided gratis by the organizer, and I had started to unpack the bags that the bellman had delivered, full of beautiful garments I didn’t recognize.

I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the urge to explore our surroundings, and in my haste I left piles of clothing on the sofa rather than placing them in drawers, and even left jewelry out on the tables in the sitting area. I grabbed my son’s hand and led him into the hall, not even minding that the door was unlocked and open. Even worse, our suite was by a busy elevator where many people were coming and going, laughing, chattering and dressed for an evening of partying.

“But what if the mayor calls?” my son asked.

I looked at him quizzically, then giggled. “Well, if he does, I’m sure he’ll leave a message.”

We got on the elevator, surrounded by the intoxicating aromas of perfume, cologne, and alcohol swirling through wispy clouds of cigarette smoke. I sighed, starting to regret bringing my son into this tainted atmosphere. Soon we reached the basement and exited near the pool, where the air was heavy with chlorine and the muffled sounds of pump filters and whirlpool jets.

I had thought we might go for a swim, but the pool was packed with seniors doing a water aerobics class. So we boarded the elevator again and exited on the third floor, where a formal ball was in progress. My son had learned to dance when he was five, so I suggested we go back to our room and change for the party.

Thankfully, someone had closed and locked the door of our room after we had left, and it appeared that nothing had been disturbed. My son pointed out that there was a blinking silver light near the ornately carved, ivory telephone with gold filigree trim.

“Maybe the mayor called,” he said.

I shrugged, not really wanting to check messages. “Oh, we’ll worry about that later.”

I awoke with a sense of remorse over not listening to my son’s repeated warning, for out of the mouths of babes comes praise and strength (Matthew 21:15-16; Psalm 8:2). To be saved by trusting in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior Who died to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) to give His followers eternal life (John 3:16), we must have a childlike faith (Matthew 18:3-4; 19:14).

One day Jesus Christ will return again to defeat the enemies of Israel and the devil himself, and He will then reign over the new Jerusalem for one thousand years as the Mayor of that holy city and as Lord over all (Revelation 21:1-5). We must wait for, heed and follow the Mayor’s call!

As born-again believers (John 3:3-8), we are so blessed to have the privilege of constant communication with Him even now, should we so desire (Hebrews 4:16). Yet He will not force His will or His guidance on us (Revelation 3:20), and so often we are guilty of ignoring His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12) and not even caring to listen to what He has to say (1 Thessalonians 5:19, Ephesians 4:30).

In the dream, I dismissed my son’s reminders to wait for the Mayor’s call, because I was too distracted by worldly lures, represented by the hints of drinking and flirtation on the elevator. But Scripture tells us to be sanctified, or set apart (Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11). We should flee temptation (2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Corinthians 10:13) or risk being dragged down to the basement level. The world offers “solutions” to the consequences of succumbing to these temptations, symbolized in the dream by the chlorine in the pool and rituals to improve physical fitness.

But nothing but the blood of Christ can wash away our sins (Revelation 1:5), and for a daily cleansing we need to be washed in the pure, living water (John 4:10-14) of His Word (Ephesians 5:26) that forever quenches our thirst! What a contrast to harsh chlorine that could burn us and yet not protect us from all bacteria and parasites, representing the filthy contaminants in today’s world. The consequences of sin are disease and death, and only Jesus is the cure (Romans 6:21-23). Physical exercise is of little benefit if we are spiritually unfit (1 Timothy 4:8).

Evangelicals often frown upon all dancing, yet there is a distinction between worldly dancing, used as a sexual provocation (Matthew 14:6-9), and dancing as an expression of joy and worship. Approximately two thirds of references to dancing in Scripture are in the context of offering praise to the Lord (Psalm 150:4), as in David dancing before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14), Miriam rejoicing over God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 15:20-21), and even John the Baptist leaping for joy in the presence of His Savior while he was still in his mother’s womb! (Luke 1:41-44)

Dancing to me is a unique form of human expression because it involves our whole triune being: body, soul and spirit, reflecting the image of God as the Trinity (Genesis 1:26-27), symbolized in the dream by the third floor where the dance was taking place. Once my husband and I were saved, we realized that God had uniquely equipped us through our dancing experience and training to use this art form as a ministry to reach the lost with the Gospel message.

Upon awakening from the dream, I also experienced regret that I was not saved until my son was 10 years old, and that I had therefore missed the potential opportunity of raising him in a Christian environment before then. But praise the Lord, His timing is always perfect (Ephesians 1:10), and He did give me the opportunity to share the Gospel and Scripture with my son once I was saved. Thanks be to God that our son came to know the Lord soon after we did, and he recently married a Godly woman and they are members of a Bible preaching church.

Once we are saved, we are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6), represented in the dream by the lovely penthouse suite He had so graciously provided as a freely given gift. The abundant blessings of clothing and jewelry are reminiscent of our garments of salvation, for the Lord has covered us with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns himself with ornaments, and as a bride with her jewels (Isaiah 61:10).
These freely given gifts also reminded me of how the prodigal son was treated when he returned home to his Father (Luke 15:22). Yet, like the prodigal, we often fail to be good stewards (1 Peter 4:10), indicated in the dream by my carelessly leaving these blessings strewn about and unsecured. Praise the Lord, He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13) even when we are not, and in the dream someone else had locked the door, protecting us from the consequences of my being irresponsible.

The dream reminded me to listen and follow when our Lord calls, to remain in the world and yet not of it by being set apart, and to flee temptation. May we be Godly examples to those He entrusts to our care and good stewards of all the many blessings He has provided, until He comes again!

© 2019 Laurie Collett