The Quarantine Diaries: Now and Forever

I cried yesterday.  Over something really petty.  And I knew it wasn’t about the thing, it was about the state of the world.  I didn’t cry hard.  I choked it back, called a prayerful friend, and regained my bearings.  But it was enough to give me a pause and make me notice the precipice I’ve been standing on.

When I look over the edge, I see absolute mayhem.  I believe that we, as a globe, are on the brink of one of two things: Revival or the End Times.  I have my reasons for saying that and am not certain it would be fruitful for me to tell you the reasons why I fear I may see the impending end in sight.  Then I may drag you down the same rabbit hole I have fallen into at times, that caused my eyes to leak yesterday.

But I will tell you about the finger grip-hold, where I am able to regain my composure, climb back to the top of that cliff’s edge, and watch the horizon hopefully.

I have long preached it, that there are only two moments we are promised: Now and Eternity.  Not everyone is promised a blissful eternity.  Some are headed to a place of gruesome torment, if they don’t turn to God in the now, but it will still last for all of eternity.  Maybe you are one who doesn’t want to hear that, but I warn you in love, because I could not possibly want anything more for you than to have heaven and be spared from hell.  And to know Jesus now.  Because He is all lovely and good, and He is hope in these desperate times.

But back to Eternity and the Now.  I have preached it to my kids and anyone who happens to be listening when I say it out loud.  But these days, I preach it to myself more than anyone.  Mentally, I have been camped out in Matthew 6, where it says things like: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (vs. 25), ” And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (vs. 27), “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (your physical needs) will be added to you.” (vs. 33) and finally, the one that has gripped me with such tenderness and mercy over this past month-ish… “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (vs. 34).  Selah (that means pause or a musical interlude, as in the Psalms).

When my mind slips into fear, it is because I am forgetting the wisdom of Matthew 6:34, to not worry about tomorrow.  And I am forgetting that my God’s plans will not be thwarted, and no amount of man’s conniving will be able to control the destiny that He, in His goodness and grace, sets before us.  He is far more powerful than those plotting the things that lead to destruction.

Yet, even still, this world may very well be nearing it’s end.  And why not in our generation?  Christians have been saying for millennia “Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus, come!”  Have we forgotten that hard times are prophesied to precede His second coming?  Have we forgotten that “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me (Jesus) before it hated you.” (John 15:18)?  Are our thoughts so consumed by the temporal suffering we must endure that we miss the anticipation of the eternal glory of our King riding on the clouds to rescue us one last time?  I know my thoughts (and sanity/clarity) teeter sometimes.  When I lose sight of the glories to come (which, by the way, are promised to far outweigh the sufferings of this present time!  Romans 8:18), that is when I find myself feeling despondent or even crying a little over petty things.

This morning I perched myself on my porch swing, to enjoy a quick rainstorm, admire the  dawning colors of the Crab Apple tree in my backyard, and nestle into the encouragement of the Word of God.   And for the first time in awhile, I actually read that chunk of Matthew 6.  Until now, my mind has been floating to what it says, but I haven’t sat with it, in print on the lap.  I scanned the verses to find where I should land, of both Matthew 5 and 6, because I couldn’t remember exactly where all those verses were that I was continuously drawing encouragement from.  Here is what I discovered:

The other promised time, Eternity, is spoken of just before we are taught to trust Him with today and leave tomorrow alone!  Verses 19-24 speak of storing up our treasures in heaven, rather than earth, because our hearts wander to where our treasures lie.  Vs. 24 actually says “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.”  Other translations say “mammon” instead of money, which has an even deeper meaning.  Mammon refers to the idolatry of putting our trust in money.   Somewhere I heard that it was also a reference to an ancient, demonic “deity” and I wouldn’t doubt it, but I can’t prove that’s the case (except with Wikipedia, which wouldn’t be my first choice for a reference).  Either way, the contrast between placing hope in God or mammon teaches that we either have hope in this life or the next.  Then, the Lord, in His mercy, immediately funnels us into the passages where He tells us not to worry about our physical needs but that He will daily provide for those who seek His Kingdom and righteousness first!

I find this exhortation to hope in eternity more pertinent than ever.  God doesn’t promise to keep us from suffering, but when I hope in eternity, I gather up goodness that is well beyond simply being spared from “momentary light afflictions” that the Apostle Paul promises will produce in us, who love Jesus, “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).  And the very next verse nails it to the wall, when it says “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Church, we are alive because of Jesus, and if we die, we live forever!  If we suffer, it produces all kinds of good character, the richest hope, and it ripens us for heaven!  We cannot look at the things which are perishing!  This world is perishing, whether in our generation or years from now.   We only have two moments that exist: Now and Forever!  And now only really matters in the context of forever!

When I fixate on Truth and believe that even if I suffer it will be for good, glory and will only last for a blink, then it moves me to worship, thanks, trust and peace.  And when I remember that I am bound for Glory-land and nothing at all can separate me from that everlasting Love of Christ, it causes me to care far more about that Time Eternal, rather than this moment in history that may or may not go South for the world, but will always point North for the Christian!

Space 4/7/20

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