I believe it was Warren Wiersbe, who, in the early years of his ministry as a young pastor, visited the home of a very elderly woman who had just died. The woman had been in such poor health, she had rarely appeared at church since Wiersbe took over the pastorate, but she was held in sterling reputation there as a wonderful saint of God for years before he arrived on the scene. The young pastor was welcomed into the home by the woman's daughter, who was an older and stately woman of God, herself. Privately, he had struggled with what to say.
"It must bring you great comfort to know with such perfect certainty that your mother is at long last at Home, in Heaven, in the very Presence of the Lord she loved so very dearly, " he offered.
"Oh, Pastor," she smiled sweetly, "she has lived there these past 50 years."
This sweet saint well knew how to live in the reality of our PRESENT Heavenly Residence. And that is the objective of this series of studies; that each one of us might be encouraged to take the fullest possible advantage of this amazing privilege God promises us in His Word, that seems so little known and delighted in among His people.
Why is that? I find even the best commentaries disappoint here; they say precious little about it. We all see the same verses clearly before us in our Bibles: "our conversation IS in Heaven . . ." " seated with Him in heavenly places in Christ;" "ye are dead; and your life IS HID with Christ in God . . ." but so few seem at all energized or excited by it!
I can think of only two possible reasons for such evident lack of enthusiasm: either we don't really understand it, or WE'RE JUST NOT ABLE (OR WILLING?) TO BELIEVE IT! In spite of ourselves, we tend to follow the crowd, even in Evangelical Christianity, as we wear with pride our "Go against the flow" t-shirts. We may even be saying within ourselves, "clearly, nobody ELSE seems that fired up about it, why should I be?"
And there are those who quip, "well, we don't want to be so heavenly-minded, we're no earthly good." I believe that is one thing that need not worry us one bit. Our circle of friends includes many veteran missionaries, pastors and pastor's wives, theologians and longtime believers, and Karen and I agree we cannot name one person who fits that description. I really don't believe such a person exists (there ARE people out there who are "space cadets," but that is another thing, entirely!). The trend really is overwhelmingly in the other direction; why does no one worry about that?
The truth is, according to God's Word, making our present heavenly citizenship our PRIORITY FOCUS is the only way we CAN be of real "earthly good." Jesus says we are to be "in the world," but not "OF the world" (John 17:11-16).
Some see Mary of Bethany as the impractical, dreamy (maybe even lazy?) sister in Luke 10:38-42, while Martha is the one you can count on to get the real work done. What we may be forgetting is that Mary DOES serve the Lord in a very real, tangible, and costly way -- in Matthew 26:6-13 (see also Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8). And when MARY serves, it is HER act of service that is honored by the Lord more than any act performed by any other disciple in any of the four gospels (see Matthew 26:10-13; Mark 14:6-9), BECAUSE IT IS BORN OF THE MOST GENUINE, INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH THE HEART OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. I believe Mary's service is born IN HIS HEART.
And where is that Lord Jesus now, at this minute? At the Right Hand of His Father, IN HEAVEN.
And WHERE ARE YOU, right now, as you read these words? Hmmmm?
Rest easy, dear saints. If you adopt the focus God actually commands us to in His Word (Colossians 3:1-2), it will NOT diminish your practical value as His servant here on Earth; IT WILL ONLY ENHANCE IT.
"I say the truth in Christ, I lie not:" this is one of the most powerful, wonderful, amazing provisions God has made for us for our earthly pilgrimage, and it has been an incredibly reliable key to my own emotional survival in these days of such deep, relentless pain as we grieve the loss of our beloved son.
So why do we race from church to church, seminar to seminar, conference to conference, looking for bigger and better, louder and more colorful bells and whistles, lights and baubles; flashy, big name speakers and dynamic personalities, searching for some "golden key" to dramatically transform our Christian experience, when we've got such a thrilling reality to cling to by simple faith in our trusty old leather-bound Bible?
More later, Lord willing.