Monday, April 18, 2016

Called Higher

In college, I took my first real poetry class; the coursework intimidated me, but my professor was gentle and encouraging, and I started to peck around the edges of something more than just sing-songy rhymes. The meter and format of this piece still makes me cringe a little, but know that I was 20, and I'd only started to wade in the shallow waters of poetry writing. I'm still not an exceptional poet, but I adore the genre and the power such a condensed form of writing can possess. 

I wanted to explore Revelation (and some other passages of Scripture: 2 Cor. 5:1, Num. 22:28). I wanted to show my desire to "get it": to walk the right path, to hear the right voice, to go to my eternal home. 

So, in honor of starting a poetry class in a few weeks, I thought it appropriate to humbly submit my own collegiate work: don't be too harsh. :) 

Thousand Years

A thousand years I roam within this tent.
Will I ever know what the letters meant?
Will I walk to follow the way,
Or detract, wander, and stray?
            Let me not be covered in water;
            Or see the dumb beast stutter.

Let me learn it rightly, without circumstance.
When the Finale comes, leave me not up to chance.

But soon fly home to stay.
As below me the day
Melts away.

           Leaving tents windblown and crumpled,
           Inhabitants bowed and spirits humbled. 

Perhaps some people assert that I talk too much of eternity and have a morbid sense of the life to come. I'm not fatalistic; I just recognize that this life doesn't carry a fraction of potential compared to Heaven. Imagine holding up a stick-figure drawing as illustration of your father's face.  Or, you could have an Ansel Adam's photo of it. Which would you choose? 

Eternal living could be contrasted to earthly living...except I'd take it a step further. Instead of the stick drawing--or even the Ansel Adams photo--you get the real person. 

Some people argue that those with thoughts captured by an eternal perspective are of no real good to the hear and now, but C.S. Lewis counterclaims to opposite: If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.

For those who understand why we are here, who we are here for and where we are going are much more applicable and helpful than those who are lost to the answers. 

“Someday this upside-down world will be turned right side up. Nothing in all eternity will turn it back again. If we are wise, we will use our brief lives on earth positioning ourselves for the turn.” 
― Randy Alcorn, Money, Possessions and Eternity

We are eternal beings intended for an eternal place. And, above all else, an Eternal Person. 

“Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It's a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God. If we don't want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel.” 
― John PiperGod Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself

This John Piper statement jars me (as his words often do). I'm stunned and humbled for all the times (the years) that I just haven't gotten it--I've chased after the wind.

So, how does this eternal mindset of God above all translate into practical life change? I think it comes down to motivation. 

What drives me? What empowers me? Where does my identity come from?

If it's not Him (or even God plus something), something is wrong and something will crumble... for other gods cannot hold us up for very long. 

Seeing myself in light of eternity (Jesus and Heaven), I don't have to exert so much time and energy proving myself. 

Money becomes a means to provide and give, not something to rely on for security and comfort. 

Degrees become an opportunity to use your talents to further the kingdom and minister in a way you may not otherwise be able to, not as a placard to tote my accomplishment or knowledge.

Ministry and small groups and Bible studies are transformed from "what can I get what I need" to "what can give to those around me?" 

Work is a way to glorify and serve God, not prove how diligent or aspiring I can be. 

Family is about sacrifice and love, not about convincing the world I'm a "good mom," capable and caring.

When our identity is held firm in an eternal vault and we are sealed in Christ (2 Cor. 1:22), we see ourselves free from the heavy burden of worldly baggage. 
We are liberated to do something more grand, something Other-focused, and others' focused. 

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 1:21-22)

Called Me Higher

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