In Good Times and Bad

This weekend in Hilton Head my family took church outside. Instead of heading to an actual service, we sat in the backyard and had an impromptu devotion and discussion together. We talked about pressing on; persevering toward the “finish line”—whatever that is in each of our unique situations. But what I really loved, was when we talked about where our focus should lie. Where our strength comes from, where our hope is found.

Philippians 3:19b-20 “Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”

Life is hard, and it does not get easier with time. I find myself constantly battling to maintain that childlike faith that used to come so easily, but is now shrouded in the fear and uncertainty that experience brings. Doubts creep in where assurance in the Almighty God used to solely reside. I tend to keep God at arm’s length much of the time because, as experience has taught me, getting close to someone means taking a risk. They may let me down when I need them most, and it is just best to depend on myself. But this mentality is destructive, and while it may give me a false sense of strength and competence in good times, what happens when life and circumstances begin to overwhelm me?  As Abbie so wisely put it in our talk this weekend, it’s easy to forget God in the good times, but impossible to overlook Him in the bad. And in those difficult times, where is my focus? Where is my hope? Do I have the right perspective during the good times to sustain me when the bad ones come? Is my faith in God strong enough to uphold me, when the world falls out from under me? I don’t struggle to pray when I need God, I struggle to make time for Him when life is good. And like any relationship, a one-sided or need-basis-only style will not yield a healthy relationship with God. My hope needs to be found in Him; Him alone. My focus needs to be on Him; on the Cross. And my perspective should be based on an eternity with Him; a citizenship found in Heaven.

Our pastor last weekend on Easter challenged us to act on our Faith, if what we believe really is true. His message centered around the story of Easter– the Resurrection–being the principal theme of the Christian faith. Without it, the rest of our  faith, the whole Bible, falls to pieces. If Jesus did not resurrect from the grave, than this life on Earth is all we have, and we better live it up. But what if He did? What if He conquered Death, saved me from my contemptuous nature, and will call me to Him one day? What, then, should my focus be now? In good times and in bad? I do not know what my life will bring. If the next phone call I get will be good news or bad. All I know is that I want to claim that citizenship in Heaven, and live every day knowing the reality of what He has done for me. With an eternal perspective, I will praise Him through the storms life brings and I will praise Him in times of sheer joy.

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