26 hours ago, I didn't expect to be sitting in an airport. The phone rang yesterday morning telling me of my step-grandmother's passing. It wasn't a tremendous shock--she had lived a long, full life and had been ready to go home for quite a while, and her failing health seemed to indicate that it could happen in the next couple of years--but you're just never ready to hear that message. You're never ready to receive that call.
And suddenly, everything has changed. The plan of a fun-filled, crazy week of Bible Camp has been exchanged for airports, a funeral home, and unplanned family reunions. A single call changed everything.
God will, at times, call us to hardship. There are preachers and churches out there who center their entire message on a so-called "Theology of Glory." It's a message that says, "God wants you to be healthy! God wants you to be wealthy! God wants you to be happy!" Those sentiments ignore reality, and more alarmingly, they ignore eternity. Such a message may bring in the crowds and sell the books because who doesn't want the secret to the end of their misery? Who doesn't want to get out from under the hardship of financial burdens? Who doesn't want to want to put an end to heartache?
Except Jesus tells us that if we want to follow him we'll need to take up our crosses daily and follow him. He says that we need to keep in mind that the world hated him first when we find it hating us. He says we need to stay focused on what is waiting for us, noting that our heart and treasure occupy the same space.
God wants you to be happy! God wants you to be healthy! God wants you to be wealthy! But maybe not here. God takes the long-view on everything, and the ultimate long-view ignores what is temporary and focuses on what endures to eternity.
Ending an illness, ending financial hardship, moving on beyond the things that cause us grief really are only addressing symptoms. The real problem is sin. All those troubling, difficult things come into our lives because we are sinners living in a sinful world. Left to ourselves, we can fix none of it. But God can, because he doesn't just address the symptoms, he gets at the heart of the solution. Jesus comes and doesn't aim to make us healthy; he aims to cure the disease of sin that causes every other problem. Jesus' death in our place on the cross paid for our sin and took away the just punishment of hell that we had waiting for us. Jesus' resurrection assures us that we will live with him forever in heaven--the place where we will truly be happy, healthy, and wealthy, because we will have the unending riches of God's love before us every moment of every day with no sin to cause any problems.
On Day 1 of Bible Camp, the children learned about God's call. They learned that beautiful assurance from God through the Prophet Isaiah, "I have called you by name. You are mine" (Isaiah 43:1). What a beautiful promise. God has called you, even by your very name. He knows you, he loves you. That's that brings joy, even if the phone rings announcing a funeral, or a collection agency, or bad news from the doctor's office. God has called you, and that's a call that trumps everything else. You belong to him because he loves you. You will be with him forever in heaven because he has redeemed you.
Thank you, Lord, for that comfort, care, and protection. Thank you for making me yours!