Will Someone Please Stop the World and Let Me Off?
You are not alone. Trust me. I know exactly how you feel. Life has become a revolving door. It’s a grind. Far too predictable. Far too unpredictable.
You’re worn out – and you want out.
Of what, you may not be entirely sure, but you’re certain it has something to do with your immediate circumstances. Albeit, you’re certain things must change. And you’ve reached that point of desperation when you’re ready to bring everything to a screeching halt just so you can do some critical evaluations. And you ask…
“How did I get here?”
“Is this what life is really about?”
“Is this what I work so hard for?”
If any of the above resonate within you, this post is just for you. I’ve been there, and God is faithful to deliver you. God would like to do something extraordinary in your life. You’ve come to a place of reckoning. That’s good! Embrace it. He’s got you exactly where He wants you. It’s time to settle the score. There are things you can do to soften your circumstances, although you may not be able to change them. And sometimes those changes take time. They are not always immediate. So, I encourage you to be patient and play the cards God’s dealt you with wisdom and strategy, otherwise known as obedience. By no means am I inferring that you are disobedient, but when things are a grind you can easily get sucked into a routine where God’s will is no longer at the forefront. Sadly enough, we cannot always change our circumstances. But we can change our response to them, as well as our perspective. So, after you have a good cry out (which I believe you may need)…
And I am not kidding one bit. Look up. Begin lifting your eyes to the heavens. Practice dwelling there, and get ready for a paradigm shift.
A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE = A CHANGE IN FOCUS & CLARITY OF VISION
You’re life is far greater than what you are experiencing right now. Instead of looking at your life from a temporal, finite, limited human perspective, I invite you to begin seeing it from an eternal and limitless perspective by catching a vision of it through God’s eyes.
Eternity is a difficult reality for most to comprehend. Wrapping our finite brains around its infinity is not easy. Our understanding of eternity is relative to our concept of time. And eternity is a very, very long, long time. Therefore, keeping an eternal perspective as a believer is challenging.
Yet we are exhorted to do it. And I’d like to discuss why. Because if you don’t, the world will bait and trap you.
Paul says this:
…though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal, (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, KJV).
While in our temporal bodies, Heaven becomes a mystery we can only know by faith. Yet the absolute reality of it far surpasses tangible life. There are those who have tasted its wonders and returned to testify of its never-ending glories being so awesome they often find them hard to describe.
Interestingly, these privileged souls bear the self-same witness, sharing similar stories with a common thread; their testimony being this: They didn’t want to come back. Why? Because the reality of Heaven brings a complete disillusionment of this world. These witnesses maintain Heaven to be far more real than anything we could possibly experience in mortal flesh. Once set free from their mortal bodies, life in the spirit is vastly clearer and more acutely experienced, being unhindered by any limitation of the senses.
It is here the desires of the heart are proven. There is simply nothing desirable upon earth that is comparable – except for loved ones who are left behind. And even loved ones are not able adjourn their eternal pining. Those who are sent back come back at the will of God, not by their own yearnings, and are sent for the sake of people, not things. So, it serves us well to remember our purpose while we tarry here. I think it suffices to say, they didn’t miss this life once set free into the perfect joys, pleasures and glories of Heaven. Who wouldn’t want to live in the fullness of God’s presence? Paul knew this reality intimately, because to him God opened eternal mysteries so clandestine it was unlawful to utter them. Paul experienced Heaven firsthand (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-12). It is in this light that he proclaimed to count all things but dung that he may gain the knowledge of Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings (see Philippians 3:7-11). That’s a poignant statement if there ever was one. Needless to say, I don’t think we’ve got anything to lose.
In death, life does not end. It merely transitions from the temporal to the eternal; from the physical to the spiritual. The Bible says our life here is but a vapor of mist (see James 4:14). We are likened to blades of grass that wither and pass away in comparison to eternity that awaits us (see 1 Peter 1:24). Christ warns those who would follow Him not to lay up their treasures here on earth, but to do so in Heaven (see Matthew 6:19-21). He warns us not to get too attached here. He warns us to hold loosely to this life, so we may gain true life: the abundant life He offers (see John 10:10). He warns us that we can gain the whole world and yet lose our soul (see Matthew 16:42-27). Truly, we are spiritual beings. Our real life is not here. It’s with Him in Heaven – for all of eternity.
The disciples kept a venerable eternal perspective – and spoke of it candidly. Peter and Paul say we are sojourners here on earth (see 1 Peter 1:17), that our citizenship is in Heaven (see Philippians 3:20, 21 and 1 Peter 2:9, 10), and we are therefore, Ambassadors of Christ, representing Him and His Kingdom in this world (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). We are called strangers and pilgrims; a peculiar people.
The reality of eternity is a concept we fail to accurately grasp by anything other than faith. If we do so with our minds, our perceptions of eternity will be skewed and warped by our own flawed understanding and limited perspectives. Because of this, most view eternity in the wake of death instead of true life. Our understanding is hindered not only by a temporal body and finite mind, but by an inability to consciously maintain an eternal perspective. We are constantly pulled by this world, being hurried with things that have no eternal value whatsoever. We become preoccupied, and even dazzled by temporal things that are destined to perish and are therefore passing away. A life so hasty, dazzled and preoccupied is not the abundant life Christ promised, designed, or destined us to live. Life in Christ revolves around people; not things. All things He created were given to us for our enjoyment. They are here to service us, even as we were created to serve each other. Yet in our fallen state, these have become our masters. We are now servants to things, and using people to get them. This was never God’s loving will or gracious design.
Life in this world as we know it is difficult. Jesus said:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world, (John 16:33, KJV).
Live long enough, and the day finally comes when you groan for an escape. I call it ‘adulthood’. I say this very tongue-and-cheek. It’s inevitable. We all want to be rescued. This world system gets old, tiring, and dim. It’s simply exhausting. Life can seem very much like a revolving door. The daily grind can be overwhelming – to the degree that many who do not know Christ can actually despair of life. You can and should sincerely enjoy the rewards of this life. Yet without the hope of Christ and the gift of eternity with Him, any hope becomes vain and hopeless. I can’t even imagine living a life in this world without the promises of Christ. There are days when I say to myself, ‘Will someone please stop the world and let me off?’ Christ is the only One who can bring us rest in this world. Truly, we were designed and destined for Heaven. We are spiritual beings living in a body which the Bible calls a ‘tent’ (a moveable and vulnerable dwelling), which we will someday ‘throw off’ or ‘cast away’ (see 2 Corinthians 5:1-9).
A Heavenly Dwelling On Earth
You are the temple of God where His Spirit resides, and your purpose is to bring Heaven to earth. You are God’s dwelling place. You carry His Spirit within you. When Christ taught His disciples to pray, He did not tell them to pray for deliverance from this world or that they should be taken out of it. Instead, He taught them to pray that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven – and that happens through you as you obey God on a daily basis. When you begin to identify your core purpose, and you walk in that purpose, your life changes.
Jesus made it clear that we are to take up our cross daily. He taught us to live one day at a time, giving no thought for tomorrow. He knows us. When you understand that He is your personal Beginning and End, your perspective changes both temporally and eternally.
Life gets heavy. And God provides us an escape into the heavenly realm we call Home. Christ gives us this precious and expensive access through His Holy Spirit by His shed blood upon the cross. Through Him we can tap into the eternal and infinite abode of God and His perfect presence and power. He does not keep this from us. Rather, He invites us into it, welcoming us with an undeserved mercy and grace that comes only through childlike faith in Christ (see Hebrews 4:13-16). Making time for Heaven in His presence is something we must choose. It doesn’t come any other way. You are God’s dwelling place. You are His temple. His Spirit now resides within you. Now you must choose to dwell in Him. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within us because the kingdom of God is where the King resides. And He resides in you. When Jesus walked by He was able to proclaim the kingdom of God had come. Why? Because the King was present. The logic is simple, and it’s this: The kingdom of God is wherever the King is.
The kingdom of God is within you. But the kingdom is not the same as Heaven. The kingdom is His government by which He brings heaven to earth through you. Heaven is His abode – His actual dwelling place. They are different. Jesus understood this — and we must understand it as well if we’re going to live effectively upon this earth and escape its traps and snares upon our soul (which are many and varied).
Lift Up Your Eyes
I have always loved to look at the sky. It’s a keyhole of sorts through which we may peer. Scripture says the heavens declare the glory of God. They sky is ever-changing. Sometimes I don’t think we look up enough. Pondering and enjoying the sights of the sky not only inspire me, but they are very therapeutic for a soul that is tied to this passing earth and fallen world. I believe the sky is an enormous gift from God. It gives us a beautiful glimpse into the infinite realm we cannot see with natural eyes: that glorious eternal realm where we will someday live forever. God uses it to speak to us in so many ways. It is here we see the sun, the moon and the stars which He hung so carefully by which we tell times and seasons. The Word of God says that in the end He will roll up the sky as a scroll, and it’s in this very sky that we will witness His glorious return. He will come riding on the clouds of heaven in the fullness of His glory with the company of innumerable angels, and the saints who have gone before us. The sky is the first of three heavens which God created. The second heaven is the universe, which again gives us a rare glimpse into the eternal mysteries of God. Its expanse is so vast it seems limitless – at least to us, as its boundaries have not yet been determined. I see it as God’s playground. Daily He changes the face of the heavens. Clouds drift and stars fall. New stars are formed. Galaxies shift. We are mesmerized by its mysteries. The wonders of God’s heavens never cease. As the Creator, He is always creating. He hasn’t stopped since the beginning of time.
There is a heaven I love even more, and that is the third heaven – the Heaven in which God dwells; the place He calls Home; the place of the eternal; the expanse we cannot see except by faith. Anyone who has a home and the resources to furnish it knows that home is a very personal thing, and one goes to great lengths in making it safe, beautiful, and comfortable. Your home speaks to who you are, what you do, what you fancy, what and who you love, and with whom you live and share your life. Home is a sacred place. God’s home is Heaven. It’s His eternal abode. He lives there. Many have visited, only to come back testifying of its enormous wonders. Its spiritual reality is infinitely greater than anything our fleshly bodies could possibly know or experience within the limitations of five senses. But we have a divine key of access given to us by Christ. We are enabled to experience Heaven now through the Holy Spirit. He is the gift the Father gives through Christ to all who believe, allowing us to tap into our true spiritual home. He is our connection. If we live in the Spirit and walk by the Spirit we are enabled to experience Heaven on earth through prayer, worship, revelation, and the power He grants to perform God’s will on earth. Those in Christ are said to be seated in the heavenly places in Christ (see Ephesians 2:4-9). Although we are here, there is part of us that is already eternally domiciled. How this could be, I do not know. Again, we see another mystery we cannot yet understand except by faith.
A Divine Hunger and Thirst
My soul thirsts for that perfect and eternal place where God dwells. I believe every believer experiences this hunger, and there are times in our lives when it grows stronger than others, becoming such an acute longing that we cannot ignore it. Our spirits simply outgrow this life. We desperately long to be with Jesus where He is. We long for Home. We ache. We long to depart, just as Paul says in Philippians. He describes this aching hunger so well, making it clear that it is to every advantage for him to be with the Lord, yet he was willing to stay for the sake of the churches he served. For Paul (as it should be for all believers), going to Heaven was not about death – it was about life. He said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, KJV).
He says this:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also that given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore, we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith, not by sight: we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him, (2 Corinthians 5:1-9, KJV).
As spiritual beings housed in a temporal body, I believe that as we grow in Christ our longing for Home becomes more eager. We make a transition of the soul: one from longing for this world to longing for the next. We become emotionally unfettered. We are no longer dazzled. We are no longer afraid. This world loses its luster. Heaven becomes more real than ever, and our eternal perspective sharpens.
The more time I spend with Christ in His presence and in His Word, the more acute this hungering for Heaven becomes. Paul says that though our outward man perish, we are being renewed spiritually day by day. The older we get the closer we are to Home. I don’t know about you, but death is not morose to me. Nor does it scare me one whit. When I think about going to Heaven someday, I get excited.
I realize not everyone can say this. There was a time I couldn’t say this either. I truly believe some of this comes with time and maturity. You grow into it. But it is also determined by your focus. The more time we spend with Jesus in His Word, the greater His glory becomes. When I think about the eternal it confounds me. It’s overwhelming. The reality of it is something I cannot comprehend, and any dreaming I do cannot possibly do it justice. In this life it’s merely a concept. But when I ponder it long, it’s enormity is so vast and so incredible that I am awe-stricken with its absolute truth – and the miraculous, magnificent gift of eternal life Christ has given to us. That is what’s real. In fact, that is our greatest reality. There is absolutely nothing greater. There is nothing more glorious than a perfect life with Him for all eternity. That reality is absolute. All we know, see, and experience here, right now is passing away. It’s destined to perish. The more I ponder this wonderful eternal life, the less I crave this mortal one – and not because it is not worth living. No, but because it is so temporal, and so carnal, and so very, very imperfect in comparison. I cannot contemplate why anyone wouldn’t hunger for Heaven – except for a lack of knowledge, unbelief of its existence, or being in doubt of their own destiny toward it.
Ultimately, a new heaven and new earth is in our future if we belong to Christ. My deepest soul longs for this. My favorite bible verse is:
Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write, for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done, (Revelation 21:5-6, KJV).
This is our hope! This is our promise! What a triumph! What a gift!
And then I wonder… What He will do next?
Cheers & Shalom,