Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's Real and What's Not

Sometimes we just don't get the concept that the spiritual realm is the most "real" realm known to man and spirits. 
          The spiritual realm goes forever in both directions--infinity past and infinity future.
          Here on earth, we're in a time "prison."  We cannot escape the passing of time that ultimately results in an "end."  In the spiritual realm, there is no such thing as an end.  And yet, here, our minds somehow fool us into believing that we'll always be here.  Even the minds of us Christians!  We understand that some day we'll be in heaven, but let's be honest...some days we don't feel like it'll be anytime soon.  And sometimes we even forget it's going to happen at all!
          Take Roy, as I'll call him.  
          I visited Roy today.  He's a man in his eighties who's got six months or less to live.  Upon every visit (and I mean every...single...one), he cries at the mention of his wife, who died six years ago.  Today he told me that every morning, the first thing he does is walk over to his dresser where there's a collage of photos of his wedding day, and he touches each one of the some-fifteen photos.  Surprisingly, he doesn't cry at that time of day.  But as the day progresses, tears flow as he thinks about his wife.
          I love Roy for his sensitivity and immense love for his wife.  Even more, I love him for his love and relationship with Jesus Christ.  But I find myself continually bringing Roy to a place of anticipation of seeing his wife again soon, rather than having him imprisoned in a time warp of separation from his lovely bride.
          With each visit, I rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal creative ways of teleporting Roy from the prison of time to the reality of infinity.  Today, I told him that his life is like the tip of a thumbtack.  While infinity is like the earth and the moon and all the planets.  That is where he will be reunited with his wife, and that reunion will last forever.
         Imagine how excited we'd be if we held in our hands a plane ticket to somewhere we've never been before, like say, Europe.  Admit it.  The trip is six months away, but we're packing tonight!  We're checking off each day on a giant calendar.  And we're looking at photos online of all the places we're going to visit.
          We're not crying every day because we never travel.  
          Roy is traveling to heaven within six months.  He'll be with His Savior and his wife.  Why isn't he packing?  Why hasn't he bought a calendar?  Why doesn't he read about where he's going?
          Ahh, but our minds deceive us.  
          Reality lies in what we cannot yet see or feel or hear.
          Sure, I'm not stupid.  "Reality" in philosophical terms is both our earthly life and our heavenly one, but which one does the LORD continually sharpen our focus on?
          Already Scriptures are racing through your mind, aren't they?  We KNOW the Bible.  The KNOW the truth about what lies ahead...the great HOPE that we have in Christ.  And yet, our fingers caress a collage of the days that were, instead of envisioning the reality of what is sure to come and of what will last forever--the reality of "the city with foundations."
          Read what was deeply entrenched in the heart of our forefather Abraham, mentioned in Hebrews 11:9-10:

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

          Do we still have work to do here on earth?  
          Does that mean we should get a reality check and keep our minds on what we're doing here?
          Absolutely NOT!  Otherwise, God wouldn't tell us to "fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18).
          True "reality" then is encapsulated in the unseen Hope that lies before us.

...Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  (Phil. 3:20-21)

          If God is real, heaven is real.
          If heaven is real, salvation is real.
          If salvation is real, then many of us--including myself--need to tweak our eternal perspective!
~ ~ ~
"Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth and you get neither."  ~C.S. Lewis

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chlorophyll Versus Treasure

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
                                    ~Matthew 6:19-21

As I’ve ministered to dying people for the past several years, I’ve noticed a phenomenon.  Very shortly before someone dies, they often become extremely concerned about their belongings.
            Back in 1993, my mother was a health nut.  Before she became seriously ill with cancer and diabetes, she bought twelve large bottles of chlorophyll—a nasty green, organic liquid that tasted as bad as it smelled, and was supposedly the healthiest thing in the world to hold your nose for and drink.
            She then went into a nursing home for nearly a year.  As time grew closer for her life to come to an end, she became unusually obsessed with something.  She did not want anyone to touch her precious chlorophyll bottles!  She would often ask me or one of my siblings if the chlorophyll was still there and intact.
            “Yes, Mom.  Don’t worry.  It’s still under the dining room table where you left it.”
            I remember some sibling cruelly joked that he or she accidentally kicked one of the bottles and it burst open.  Well, I thought my mother’s skull was going to burst open right then and there.
            Just days later, she was gone.
            Does someone know when their mortality is imminent?  I believe so.  I believe, from what I’ve witnessed for a long time now, that God often speaks directly to someone’s spirit that their time is coming very soon.  And my mother was caught in the middle of stepping into the afterlife with one foot while grabbing at anything dear to her with another hand.  Chlorophyll represented earth to her.
            When Paul writes about his heaven and earth struggle here in Phil 1:22-24…
If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

            ...his “earth” was not things but people.  
            That’s because he was Kingdom centered, whereas my mother had not yet accepted Christ (she did, however, a day before she passed).  If someone does not have Christ, they latch onto the next best representative of this earthly world—things.
            That brings me to two dying women I’ve visited this past month.
            Katie is an old German woman who’s been stripped of nearly all she has owned.  She was a widow who lived alone.  When her condition became too severe to leave her alone, Katie’s neighbor, Sandy, took her in.  Katie then had to sell her house and her car to live with Sandy.  A few months later, Katie had to move to a nursing home because caring for her was too much for Sandy.  When she moved, she had to get rid of her precious Cocker Spaniel, the only family she’s known for years.
            Now in a nursing home, Katie’s become so paranoid.  Some may say that’s understandable.  Katie worries that Sandy is taking her for all she’s worth, but it’s virtually reduced to next to nothing anyway.  Still, Katie’s panicked that Sandy has her driver’s license.
            “What if a cop stops me on the road?  I’ll go to jail without it,” she cried to me.  But we all know that Katie can’t set foot in a car.  Besides, her car is gone.  Katie is holding on to anything that represents earth to her with a feverish desperation.
            Today, I spent time with another woman, Robbi.  Robbi has a short time to live, but since she recently moved to a nursing home, she’s been very teary and desperate.  You see, she believes her wayward son is at her house taking her for all she’s worth (which also isn't much).  Robbi was convulsing in tears because she thinks her son is stealing a rock collection she has in a backpack.  Those rocks are Robbi’s chlorophyll.  But today, I believe I refocused her on her treasure in heaven, praise God. 
            Please pray for both Katie and Robbi.  But more importantly, join me in ensuring that your treasure and mine remains where it should be—in the bosom of our Lord in heaven!  
            We nearly lost everything in the Waldo Canyon fire this summer.  Fortunately, the Lord spared our home.  But even more fortunately, the incident woke up my wife and me about what’s really important.  And “things” just aren’t.  Mind you, Adéye and I don’t own anything to store in a safety deposit box.  (You’re more than welcome to walk around our home and help yourself to anything! lol)  But still, belongings don’t have to have intrinsic value to be a source of treasure on earth.
            I have in my closet two or three boxes of “stuff” that belonged to my father.  They were near and dear to his heart.  But for me, well, I never once looked at them since he died.  It’s not that it’s too painful, it’s that they don’t mean anything to me.  They were dear to HIM.  Aw, but Solomon got it right, huh?  It’s all vanity, empty!
            Let go, friends.  Let go.  Start now releasing the chlorophyll in your life and be free to go home.  Because it could happen at any time.

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