Tag Archives: temporary

Shackled to the Temporary

I had a dream last night that I died. As I was ascending to Heaven, I called out to God, “Wait! I can’t die. I haven’t had the chance to fulfill what you called me to.” God replied, “You had the chance, but you never took it. You focused on the things that didn’t matter and let them keep you from your calling. I had to find someone else.” With that, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep for a while. My mind was replaying it over and over trying to find another ending.

The only ending God is interested in is me fulfilling what He’s called only me to do. He created me for a specific purpose. He created you for a specific purpose too. Somehow life gets in the way of doing what we were made for. We swap His priorities for earthly priorities. We get ourselves shackled into the things that don’t matter and dream of doing what really does matter.

It’s not a fast transition. It happens over time. “I’ll do what God wants me to do after I…”, we say. What happens is we spend a lifetime doing what we want while always promising to do what God wants next and then wonder where time went. Each time we pass on what God wants, we tighten those shackles a little more. We bind ourselves to the things that have no eternal value whatsoever. We treasure the temporary and dismiss the eternal.

I don’t want to live that way. I Corinthians 3:13 says that when I get to Heaven, God will take all the things I’ve built in my life and put them in fire to see what has value. If I’ve done the things that have eternal value, I’ll receive a reward. If I focused on temporary things, they’ll all be burned and I’ll have nothing to show for my time on earth. I don’t want to be standing there looking at a pile of ashes on that day.

That motivates me to find and seek out the things that will last for eternity. That makes me want to do work for God’s Kingdom. That resets my priorities and refocuses my attention on what truly does matter. Each of us have the opportunity to do what matters for eternity. Each of us are called to “go”. When Jesus left this earth, He didn’t pick out a few of the disciples standing there and tell them to “go into all the world.” He told all of His disciples to go.

Where are you going today? Wherever that is, you have the ability and the opportunity to do something that will survive that fire. You have a choice to make. You can choose to do what matters for eternity or you can choose to do something temporary and tighten those shackles a little more. I choose to do what matters so when the time of my death comes, I won’t be calling out to God to send me back so I can do what He called me to. I want to go knowing that I’ve done what He asked and knowing that I’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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Freedom Through Perspective

A co-worker of mine has a drawing on his desk of a bird eating a frog. You can’t see the frog’s head because it’s in the bird’s mouth. With one of his legs that is still outside of the mouth of the bird, the frog grabs the bird by the throat to prevent it from swallowing him. The caption reads, “Never give up!” It’s a funny drawing, but there’s a great message in it too. Most people in that situation would have given up. They can’t see the light of day. They’re being swallowed by their problems. All hope seems lost.

Paul the Apostle was in a similar situation. He was in jail often. His life was always being threatened. He was beat up, stoned, ship wrecked and had to face judges. When things seemed at their worst, he still found a way to praise God. One of my favorite stories of him was when he was in the dungeon of the prison. He was shackled with no hope of getting out. At midnight, he was singing praises to God.

If you’ve never been in a prison before, I can tell you there’s not much reason to be happy. There’s no joy there. Our prisons today have power, sewer, water, air conditioning, TV, food and more. Back then, prison was prison In every sense if the word. There was no hope for anyone that was there. Paul’s hope didn’t rely on his external circumstances though.

He understood that the things that happen to us are only temporary. As he sang, an earthquake shook the prison and the shackles that held him physically released him. His physical body became as free as his spirit. Not only did his shackles come off, but so did those of everyone in the prison. Praise is powerful enough to not only free you, but to free those around you who do not have the strength to praise.

We studied in church this week from the book “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggrichs. The chapter we studied was called, “My response is my responsibility”. Even though the book deals with marriage, the principle that was shared applies to all areas of your life. Other people do not control your response. You do. You choose how you respond to situations created by others. They can’t make you do anything. How you react is your responsibility.

Paul’s response to troubles, persecutions, prisons and trials was never one if despair. It was always of hope. In II Corinthians 4:16-18 he says, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times.” He understood, as we should, that the thing we are going through right now is temporary even though it doesn’t feel like it.

When you compare the situation you’re in with eternity, it’s small potatoes. When you compare it to your life and what is temporary, it’s huge. God doesn’t want you to compare your struggles to the things of this world. You’ll lose your perspective and ultimately your joy. Keep your eyes on eternity and what is to come. Your perspective will change and your praise will rise to free you from those chains.

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