Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4
My new year started off pretty rough. I knew 2014 would hold some interesting things and lessons, I felt it deep and I could feel the Lord preparing my heart and mind for it… I just didn’t know how it would actually translate into the reality. One thing hit right after another though and I got a little overwhelmed by how soon and quickly it all happened.
Two weeks later, I’m finally coming out of it for a brief period and some encouraging things are happening instead of some difficult challenging things. But I am not foolish enough to believe it’s over, because I know what the Lord has been trying to tell me and I feel it for so many people. So I refuse to arrogantly ignore the lessons the Lord was teaching me in the first rough two weeks of 2014.
Let’s face reality… we are sojourning on an unstable planet, with an “unstable environment” and unstable people. At any given moment and within seconds, the life you currently lead could drastically change. A hurricane can hit your home, a tornado, your water could get contaminated, your food resources could be gone, the power grid in your town shut down temporarily (or permanently)… those are just some of the more medium scale scenarios, but what about the seemingly smaller more personal things?
Your phone and communication abilities cease, your car dies and you can’t make it to work to get the paycheck to pay your bills (much less fix that car), you’re stranded, plus no internet for that beloved facebook today (sorry, maybe that sarcasm and disdain is uncalled for but man, I hate facebook), your boyfriend/girlfriend decides they want to end the relationship, you or a loved one loses their job, the power didn’t go out today but the pipes froze so no water to shower for a few days… or maybe you have to face some of the more serious ones like a death in the family or a loved one having health issues putting you in a place to figure out your role or responsibilities in caring for that individual and others.
All realistic things… and how do we handle them?
The Lord exposes a lot of your heart in those moments. He exposes and brings to light what we’re truly dependent upon, what we put our hope and security in. It’s highly uncomfortable – so our comfort zones get challenged. And in that exposure and uncomfort, our character and heart is shown for what it really is. I wasn’t a fan of what was exposed in my heart when I met some struggles the past couple of weeks, but I was so extremely grateful for the dark being brought into Christ’s light… because I want His character. So even though the exposure was uncomfortable, I wanted and needed it to repent, surrender, and let the Lord have His way. To teach me how to trust, depend, rely, and set my heart, mind & soul on and in Him.
I feel like the Lord is concerned with how we will respond to Him when we face the challenges of 2014, because how we respond will reveal our willingness and openness to His training and equipping for work in His Kingdom and for the time of His return… and He’s coming soon.
How will we each respond to His refining? I observe a lot of things. I see different people in the body of Christ going through difficult stuff and I’m seeing a variety of responses, mostly the responses are concerning and weigh heavily on my spirit. But I also observe many encouraging things and various believer’s hearts that are truly set on Christ in the midst of it all.
So back to the verse I opened this with…
If you’re setting your heart, mind, and soul on earthly things, be it technology, jobs, knowledge/education, achievements, future plans on this planet, even people in your life, whatever… those things are gonna be shaken and you may not be able to handle it.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken–that is, created things–so that what cannot be shaken may remain. – Hebrews 12:26-27
But if your heart and mind are set on the things above… you are putting your hope in Him, so you are not hopeless when all those other things fail! You can see those earthly things like technology, knowledge/wisdom (fearing God), relationships, etc. through the lens of God’s grace. Thus, your security is there, in Him, so you won’t be shaken AND you’ll be able to worship and glorify the Lord still. To continue the rest of that passage…
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:28-29
You can’t help but be thankful in the most uncomfortable of times if your heart is set on Jesus and a kingdom that cannot be shaken! It isn’t easy and you won’t be all positive hunky-dory, your flesh and heart will feel in total anguish sometimes, have stuff burned away inside isn’t a pleasant feeling… but God is still there, so it’s all good, even if it doesn’t “feel” like it.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.