Most people would say, “My overall goal is to have a good life”. If you asked them what that means or what does that look like, you’d get a human answer.
Planning for a good life requires many assumptions because our lives are terminal and of an unknown number of years. This is a precarious platform on which to plan. We don’t know what is going to happen five minutes from now, or if we will be alive five minutes from now. Statistically, we’re pretty confident that we’ll be living five minutes from now, but you know statistics aren’t that reliable.
We have only one sure way to plan a good life. I found that way in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” The longer I live, the more I appreciate the wisdom of this proverb. Since we have no clue about the future, how can we plan for it? The Lord alone knows what the future holds. Trusting him provides a great life plan. I’d like to add this amazing truth that comes with trusting the Lord, “in Christ Jesus death is no longer part of the equation.”
I have often made statements like, “I’m ready to go as soon as God calls me home,” or “I wish I could go to heaven right now.” However, the result of a recent doctor visit brought home the reality that life as I know it could end. The vague idea that life will end came crashing down on the certainty that life will end. I saw the above statements as flippant and poorly thought out utterances. A new perspective has inundated my soul. This life is precious and should be cherished.
God gave me life, and I have experienced the delights of his natural world. Yes, there is both good and evil here, but I have never failed to explore and enjoy this world’s beauty. My wife, children, extended family, and friends have afforded me a life full of joy and love. Tragedies and losses have come my way, but they serve to round out the experience. This world is all I know. Everything that defines life to me has happened here in this temporal existence.
When I die, I will leave all of this and go to a new place that is beyond my experience. Someday, I will leave here to go to a new place – I can only imagine. Life as I know it will be over.
Faith now comes to the foreground. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Even though I will be going to an unknown place, I can trust God with the unknown.
So I will not take this life for granted, or belie its importance, but I will cherish it as a precious gift from God himself.
I love to revisit the story of creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Envisioning God’s fresh creation delights my heart. Genesis 1:31 reads, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. The creator stepped back, looked over what he had made, and concluded, “It was very good.”
Today as I continue to be awed by what God created, I see elements that were not there at the beginning. Death and decay are at work in the creation. What God created that was “very good” has now deteriorated. Good now has a counterpart, evil. How did evil get into God’s creation?
When the first man and woman walked the earth only good existed. They had no special awareness of good because it was the default of their world. There was no contrast to good. In the garden, where God put them, was a tree with the knowledge of good and its contrast evil. God warned them not to indulge in this knowledge for it brought with it death. They chose not to heed God’s warning.
Why is our world filled with death and decay? The answer is obvious. We had to know about good and evil. Well, now we know. I think we could have gone without knowing. So in hindsight, when God says not to do something, we probably shouldn’t.
To conclude what I‘ve been writing about the Kingdom of God I’ve written a short story. Here is the first part.
In the beginning, the Great Ruler established a new kingdom within his realm. He loved this new kingdom and enjoyed visiting with his new subjects. He saw to it that they had everything needed for a blissful life. However, one of his other subjects rebelled against his rule and decided to take over this new kingdom.
Through deception and lies, he convinced the inhabitants of the new kingdom to join his rebellion. The new kingdom then came under a curse of death and destruction. It became a dark place full of evil. The rebel leader delighted in this for he himself was evil.
His rule over the new kingdom went on for many years. Finally, the Great Ruler had enough. From the very beginning, he had a plan to regain his new kingdom. It was now time to implement his plan. His plan was kept secret, and he caught the rebel leader by surprise.
The great Ruler sent his Son to the new kingdom, but he came not as a ruler but in the likeness of the humble people. Later, the son began to announce that the Great Ruler’s kingdom had come. This disturbed the rebel leader, so he began to figure out how to stop this challenge to his rule.
The Son showed the power of the Great Ruler’s kingdom with many signs and wonders. The people began to follow the Son because they were intrigued by his teaching and the miracles he did for them. They were also drawn to him because he had power over the rebel leader’s soldiers.
Many of the people desired to enter the Great Ruler’s kingdom, but there was a problem. All of them had indulged in the evil of the rebel leader. They could not enter the Great Ruler’s kingdom without first being cleansed. The rebel leader knew this so he was confident that he would keep his subjects. He thought, “I’ll get my subjects to kill the Son then I’ll for sure have the victory.”
When we die life as we know it is over. Now think about this. When we are born life as we know it is over. In the womb we live in a dark fluid filled container. This is the only environment we know. It is our existence, and we have no idea of change. Then one day the plug is pulled, so-to-speak, and our fluid world ceases to exist. Our head is jammed into a tunnel at the end of which is a shocking never before experienced thing, light.
From the trauma of this transition we enter into a new world of existence. This world now becomes our place to grow and explore. There is good and evil in this world, and we experience varying amounts of both, but it becomes our home. This is what we know.
Would you like to change from this world to a new one? The other way to ask this question is would you like to die? The new world is vast and peaceful where the struggle between good and evil no longer exists. Most of us want to stay in this life. We want what we know to continue even though a better existence is ahead.
When we are conceived, birth is inevitable. Once we are born death becomes inevitable. Our time in the womb, as well as our time here on earth, is important for our growth, but we were never meant to stay in the womb, and we aren’t meant to stay in this life. I think that this life is like another gestation period leading to the eternal life that God intends for us. What does God intend for us?
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. “
Jesus is alive! He was raised from the dead on the third day. We celebrate Easter because everything that Jesus came for is completed with his resurrection. From his birth, to his death on the cross, and then his resurrection, the miraculous plan of God for our redemption was accomplished. For us we can be confident that life does not end in death because Jesus overcame death. God raised him from the dead, and he has promised to raise us. Eternal life is his gift to us.
I like Paul’s analogy in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where he compares resurrection to the planting of a seed. You put a seed in the ground and bury it. If conditions are right, a living plant rises from the ground. What comes up is totally different in appearance than the seed you planted, but it has new life. When we die and are buried, our bodies as we know them are finished, but when we are resurrected, we’ll have a new body. Unlike the old body, our new body has eternal life which is God’s gift to us.
Jesus is alive! All that we hope for is centered on this truth. If Jesus is not alive than what do we have? Yet, he is alive, and our future is secured. Praises be to God! We are like little children standing in awe and wonder at what God has done for us. The greatest gift has been purchased, and it is now freely given to you and me. Oh what amazing things you have done, our holy and wonderful God, through Christ Jesus our Lord.
A while back I wrote in my diary, “Today I’m 60, but I’m going to live forever so I’m just a kid.” I haven’t felt much like a kid since I wrote this, but the hope is still alive. One of my old flippant sayings when confronted by a health conscious (health food nut) person was, “I don’t get my new body till I wear this one out.” I want you to know I’m doing well with the wearing this one out part. However it’s not as fun as it once was. The wearing out is now quite painful, but the new body hope is still alive.
Sunday morning I found myself doing what I used to think was a strange activity that old people did. I was reading the obituaries in the newspaper. Not only was I reading them, but I was emotionally involved in reading them. The short assessment of a person’s life was somehow hauntingly relevant. As I sense the nearing of life’s end, I think, “What might be written about me?” What in my years was good and what was bad? Fortunately, most obituaries focus on the good. The family usually keeps the bad to themselves. Woo, I say as I contemplate this.
I could get lost in these thoughts, but what I wrote on my 60th birthday is the real truth. I have the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus. I’m going to live forever. The assessment of this short beginning time is recorded by the eternal God. He makes the final evaluation. Praise be to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The bad is forgiven and forgotten because the most significant act of my years was receiving the great gift Jesus purchased for me on the cross. The worth of my other acts is in his hands.
Life has seemed long, but when I look back the part that has passed went by rather quickly. There is still more to come. I relish what remains. And, the hope is still alive!