We can grasp the abundant Life God has for us only when we loose our grip on this life
What will life look like when you’re seventy years old? Will you live on a comfortable pension you worked your whole life to earn? Will you own a spacious suburban house but spend long weekends in your vacation home on the lake? Hobbies and toys of all kinds will claim your time. You’ll be a member of every club in the book, including a well-reputed church where you’ll give generously every time the collection plate passes. Your kids and grandkids will be just as successful as you, working toward the same goals of comfort, security, and a good name.
Honestly, when I imagine myself at seventy years old living in the bubble I described above, everything inside me cries out that I was born for more. If hobbies, diversions, and a few good works are the only things waiting for me down the road, I’m digging in my heels and picking a different route. Falling into the alluring trap of comfort is one of the tragedies I dread most. As nice as it all sounds, I know deep in my heart that I was created for a higher calling than to be fat and happy.
So if a hefty pension isn’t our goal in life, then what is? What can really fulfill our lives, and how do we find it?
We can start by losing our lives. Would it surprise you if I said that we weren’t really born for this life after all? “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:4-5).
Can Paul be serious? Surely his phraseology is messed up. We all know that being born into this world is called “life.” When our lives end and we go to Heaven, that’s called “death.” But Paul says that our mortal existence on earth will be swallowed up by Life. This can mean only one thing: We haven’t even lived yet, people.
More than that, Paul says that this life to come is the purpose for which God created us. We weren’t just created to make Planet Earth a better place (though that’s not a bad idea). The Holy Spirit within us is proof that we were created for life – real, pure life that is more than an existence in this world could ever duplicate. I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of love and joy in my earthly life. The thought that the life to come is infinitely more satisfying blows my mind.
So we weren’t created for this life. That’s all well and good, but still the practical issue remains: We’re here for now, so how should we live?
In chapter 11 the Hebrew writer gives some excellent examples of men and women who knew how to live. In verses 11-14, he describes them this way: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.”
We mustn’t get too comfortable here. Don’t move into the hotel room. Keep your bags packed because this isn’t the destination. We’re still looking for the place we belong.
Now let’s get into the gritty details of what this lifestyle actually looks like. The Hebrew writer further describes these “aliens” as people “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 11:33-38).
Wow. This is what I aspire to. No, I’m not moving into a cave just for the fun of it, but I’m determined to be willing to lose everything for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to conquer kingdoms, administer justice, and live on the promises of God. I want my weakness turned to strength and my resurrection glorious. This is possible only when my heart has loosed its grip on this life.
This is what Queen Esther discovered when she pleaded with King Xerxes for the lives of her people the Jews. When her cousin Mordecai suggested that she speak to the King on behalf of the Jews, she responded that entering the royal court unbidden was too dangerous, sometimes even earning the offender the death penalty. Mordecai wisely replied, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther dared to enter the throne room, and we all know the rest of the story. After Esther’s bold deed, God granted the Jews victory over their enemies. Only when Esther gave up her attachment to comfort, her royal lifestyle, and her physical security – when she completely let go of her life – was she able to fully realize God’s plan for her.
It’s the same for us. When we cling to this life, our eternal vision is clouded and we can’t enjoy the fulfillment of God’s perfect will. Yet when we are emptied of this life, we are free to take hold of the real, whole, vast Life our Father has in store for us.
Jesus said it best when He told His disciples, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
That’s why I’m on a mission. To lose my life.
- Grace D. Williamson