Last week I talked about moving and the challenge of change. You have to pack everything up, live in a state of upheaval for weeks, if not months, and then hope you can actually make it from one place to another with your stuff and your sanity intact. With the sacrificial help of a great bunch of friends, we did.
If you’re smart, you give away a lot of stuff, and take note of how we accumulate way too many possessions, especially for those of us who profess to follow a man who owned none.
Then (unless you are only moving down the street) there is the psychological trauma of leaving behind the human securities of a community you have become familiar with and established in. Everything has to be uprooted and replanted.
Finally, and I think this is the hardest thing of all, you are leaving behind a lot of memories. One of our daughters wrote the names of all her brothers and sisters, and the years we lived in our house in a place in the house she thought would remain untouched. It was their home, and now they are losing it.
All this got me thinking about the call of the kingdom of God. Jesus told us we had to leave our family, our home and our security behind if we are to follow him.
The challenging things that come to the surface when we move represent fear of losing something that in the end we cannot keep anyway. This life is only a prelude to the real life we will enjoy with Jesus. Many of the things that have been meaningful to us in an earthly sense will count for little or nothing in eternity.
The kingdom of God is focussed on the future, not the past. The sentimentality which causes us to hold on to the way things were is an enemy of God’s purposes. Hard though I found it to be, the truth is that how our children are living their lives now and in the future is what is really of significance, not the physical home they have grown up in. What they learned from the environment in which they grew is only a platform for their future service to God.
Here is another thought I had. As the clock ticked down on our moving date, and then finally the day came, I realized this was the last time I would be doing this, going there, or speaking to these people. I found this harder than I had expected. Yet suddenly I had the thought that one day my earthly life will end exactly like this. Maybe I will have warning, maybe not. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. A day will come when everything I do will be for the last time.
Yet not really at all! The amazing and wonderful truth is that all of what is past is just a preparation for what my 97 year old mother calls the “great morning of God.”
That is the day when all things are made new, the day when God redeems all the good of the past, and rolls it into a glorious future which will never end.
My nephew, a professor of political philosophy, visited my mother recently and noted that her loss of memory leaves her in a kind of timeless state where things that happened in 1930 are clearer that what took place five minutes ago. He made the brilliant observation that this is in fact God preparing her for the true timelessness of living in his eternal presence.
So I’m trying to allow God to use this present transition he has called us into to take me further along the road of leaving behind the temporary signposts of this present life, and prepare me for the changeless and wonderful future he has for me.
And in the process I’m asking him to throw us radically into whatever he wants for us.
I’d rather go out in a blaze of glory than in a sentimental whimper about losing the past. God help me to do it.