““Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.”
–Jeremiah 23:23
A friend of mine got a progressive disease which robbed her of her vision. Previously she had been a nurse, but now she was totally blind and confined to a wheelchair. Of course, her lifestyle became very different, and I’ll concede the point that in her case, she couldn’t continue in nursing.
But that brings up a question in my mind that only you can answered. Since my friend had to deal with traumatic changes in her life, the most important question her situation poses is this. How do you deal with change?
You cannot remain neutral. You only have two options. Do you attempt to escape by running somewhere, like the refrigerator? Or do you run to God?
In life, we all face change. I have used the extreme example of what my friend went through on purpose. Those of us who are professed followers of Christ need to take a serious look at the apostle Paul, rather than sweeping the obstacles we all face under the rug.
As we read Paul’s epistles, we see that he was always facing change of some kind. Yet Paul says, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
Instead of letting God’s Word set the tone for our lives, we are often more concerned with the dictates of our fleshly desires, or with the people around us. Therefore, I would like you to let God search your heart, as we go on an imaginary voyage together.
As you get alone with God, allow yourself to be transported in a time capsule, back to the days of Paul.
Instead of future shock, you get an extreme case of culture shock. Rubbing your eyes, you look around.
Bewilderment fills you, followed by a nagging sense of frustration. Everything seems to be in slow motion here, compared with the familiar fast pace of the modern world.
In this new world, microwaves and cell phones are nonexistent, and the only notes and letters move more slowly than snail mail.
“I hope this is only a bad dream,” you think, as you stand beside a hot and dusty road.
Then you cry out, “Oh, no! What has happened to my shiny new car? It was sitting right here, and it had all the bells and whistles I wanted.”
Not being able to find it, however, you see a hut-like structure. Eventually, you decide to go in as an uninvited guest.
Resting for a moment, you say to yourself, “What good does it do to be out of the sun? It is even more grueling in here!” You look around, trying to find the air conditioner, but of course you aren’t able to locate it.
To your amazement, you suddenly hear people singing next door. “I don’t know who would sing in this heat,” you grumble.
Upon further investigation, you learn that these people are Christians. You claim to be a Christian yourself, but instead of having the same peace and contentment these people display, your life is based on circumstances, like that new car and the opressive heat. Filled with unrest, you think about how your closeness to Jesus has been replaced by the lust for material things.
This revelation is so shocking that you wake up with a start. To your great relief, you find out that it was only a dream. However, despite this fact, you pace the floor, and you remain disturbed for the rest of the day. The nightmare has made you question what is really important, and you wonder if, in your search for things, you have lost sight of Christ.
Sometimes we play what I call the great charade. We say we are following Christ, but our priority is keeping up with the Joneses.
In speaking about these misplaced values, Jesus had this to say: “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (KJV) in other words, when we lose our lives in the pursuit of temporary things, and take our eyes off of Christ, we will lose the sense of meaning and purpose as eternity is obscured. Then, restlessness ensues, as you try to fill the vacuum in your life with worldly gain which is constantly in a state of flux.
Now, let’s look again at the apostle Paul. The cord of strength in his life came with knowing who, and not what, was important in his life. This is the cord that ties the three verses in this blog entry together.
We see a portrait of rest being painted on the canvas of Paul’s life, because he knew that God was close at hand. Therefore, he could have peace in times of trouble, and because he knew a God who was his all in all, he found joy by seeking Jesus above all.
God is asking us who are His followers to wake up, and put Him first. Those of us who have become obsessed with seeking things like pleasure and cell-phone upgrades need to change from temporal pursuits to eternal values, as our lives have only gone downhill in the process. The Bible calls returning to Christ with a whole heart, returning to our first love. So just as in the story of the prodigal son, the God of the all in all is asking you to let Him be your fullness, as He calls you home today.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 313-209-8800. Our PIN is 8699032. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.