We got back from a long weekend in Washington, DC attending an annual holiday party the company I work for throws. It’ s a good company, good people, and they give a good party.
All during a long day of travelling we looked forward to getting home and relaxing in our hot tub. In fact, one of the reasons we bought this house was because there was a hot tub.
So, need I ask you to guess what happened last night? You’ve got it- the water jets didn’t work. I wasn’t even in the tub, and when I pushed the button to turn on the jets, nothing happened. I reset the breakers, and still nothing happened. The water is hot, but that’s it. From relaxing spa to outside bathtub.
We enjoyed the tub just last week, and now it’s broken. More money we didn’t expect to spend, and worse than that, there’s the disappointment and frustration that comes along with it.
There was no warning. No jets haphazardly going on and off, no bad sounds, no nothin’! It worked one day, then the next day it didn’t.
Isn’t that how life is? Often there are no warnings, no advanced notice. You are doing something you enjoy one day, and then BAM!! It’s gone! The hot tub doesn’t work, the tire is flat, you spouse is dead. All the same, in one respect- you suffer the loss of something you didn’t expect to lose.
Of course, losing a loved one is much worse than having to fix the hot tub, but emotionally it hits the same spot. What we liked, what we were used to having whenever we wanted, what we expected to be able to do…gone in a second. Just like that!
We do have some warning: Yeshua tells us the parable about a man who was so proud of all the things he was going to do and Yeshua called him foolish because his soul was going to be required of him that very night. I like to tell a funny, and yet very true, saying: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
That’s how life is, whether you are a God-fearing person or not. I think a big difference between those of us who worship the Lord and those who worship the world is that the world can only promise you what you can have when you are alive. God can promise you things that are eternal. Finite vs. infinite.
It’s no wonder that people can get so worked up over missing something worldly if they don’t have an eternal perspective on their life. After all, when all you have is what you have and you lose it, that’s all there is. You had it, now you don’t, and you will probably never have it again. There’s nothing you can do to fix it and there’s nothing else to replace it.
However, if you worship God and accept the grace He offers through Messiah Yeshua, you will spend eternity in total joy and peace. It still stinks that my lousy hot tub isn’t working, but in light of the eternal picture, I can get by.
That’s one of the reasons why I began to search for God when I was in my 40’s and fed up with this life and all the tsouris it brings. I saw people who were Believers and had the same problems I did, some much worse, but they endured with dignity and grace (I am still working to achieve that level. Believe me, I am not even close) and suffered through whatever they were experiencing well. I wanted the inner peace that they had.
I don’t do a good job of handling frustration and disappointment, but I am getting better. The important thing is that I understand the difference between now and forever, and although I appreciate what I have in this world, I do not count on it. Not that I am pessimistic, I am just focused more on things that are eternal and less on those that are physical. The here and now is not something we should ignore, and we should always be thankful for what we have, but the down the road and forever is what God promises us and that is better.
We should be aware of the present, mindful of the past, and focused on the future. It’s OK to make plans; in fact, I believe that a sign of faithfulness is not just to make plans, but to go forward with them even if you aren’t fully assured they will work. That is a real sign of faith, just like Abraham left all he knew to go somewhere he didn’t know, just like Moses followed the cloud, not knowing where it would lead, just like David faced Goliath counting not on his power but on God’s, just like Gideon left behind the vast majority of the men following him to do battle with only a handful, just like Yochanan, Kefa, Shimon, Mattitayu and the other Talmudim (Students, Apostles) left work and family to follow Yeshua. They knew and enjoyed what they had, but they left it in a heartbeat to have the greater, infinite prize: salvation, and eternity with God.
Being saved doesn’t mean you will have to give up the hot tub’s in your life, but you should be prepared to lose things that are of the world because to be of God is to be outside and separate from the world. The world is today and God is tomorrow. The world is now and God is forever. The world promises a lifetime in a cursed and difficult place full of loss and sadness and God promises eternity in paradise.
Not a very hard choice when you put them side-by-side, is it? So deal with the hardships and losses, no matter how significant or insignificant, with your focus not on what was lost but on what is to come. Shaul said that he learned how to be satisfied in any situation; perhaps his secret was that he kept focused on the “yet-to-be” instead of the “not-any-more.”