Thursday, March 26, 2015

Preparing for the Trip?

Imagine planning to make two trips. One’s to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. The other is a year-long excursion around the world. Which trip would merit more preparation time?

Before leaving for the grocery store you might check to see if you’d need to add something to your list. Then you’d grab your wallet, keys and hop into your car. It’s a short trip, so you needn’t fret about forgetting something. You could easily go back.

To travel around the world, however, you’d have to be more prepared. You’d want to consider things like tickets, passports and visas, money and credit cards, clothing and various essentials, camera, maps, cell phone charger. Language guides for communicating in a foreign land. And for areas with health risks, you’d want to get necessary vaccinations.

Approaching everyday life, I sometimes find myself doing this in reverse. I become consumed with today, maybe thinking about tomorrow, but forgetting about life’s greater journey – especially the life to come.

We tend to fret, fuss and fume about “now” – needs, wants and demands. Stress levels peak, blood pressures spike, and anxieties escalate when problems arise. “What are we going to do?” we lament. But Jesus said we’re expending time and energy needlessly:

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For even the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).

He’s not saying to ignore our needs. But once we’ve done all we know to do, the Lord says, “Relax. Take a chill pill. I’ve got this.” Instead of concentrating on the equivalent of a quick jaunt to the grocery store, Jesus is telling us – regardless of our age – to be preparing for the incredible journey yet to come.

The apostle Paul understood this. That’s why he wrote, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). All this stuff we feel so concerned about? It will be gone before we know it. In the blink of an eye. So instead of staring at passing road signs, we should be envisioning the ultimate destination.

This doesn’t mean becoming so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good. But it challenges us to approach each day with a clear, uncompromising sense of what’s important.

Jesus described this in His so-called “Sermon on the Mount,” declaring, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

It’s never too early to start building a legacy. At the same time, it’s never too late. You’re familiar with the old saying, “You can’t take it with you”? That’s true, but at the same time Jesus is telling us, “You can send it on ahead of you – so it will be waiting on you.”

If we live in the light of an eternal perspective, there’s no telling what treasures will be waiting for us one day.

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