Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Wrong of Return

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. – Hebrews 11:14-15

There have been times, I will admit, when I have thought it might be pleasant or at least convenient to go back to the old way of living, to close my eyes to reality, to pretend and to believe the delusion for a while.  From time to time, I stumble over faith.  Righteousness has its trials.  We feel alienated.  So much of what seems to captivate worldlings appears to us to be empty, as nourishing as sawdust.  We may wonder what we are missing.  The non-believer or the nominal believer -- i.e., the person who “believes in God and all that”, may be quite content and happy with his or her place in life.

When the man known as Abram left Ur of the Chaldeans, he left behind many who were satisfied with their lot and their gods.  Like millions today, they did not believe that there could be a better land, a better city, or a better life.  I hear a voice calling,” the song says.  It must be my Lord.  Abram heard that Voice; those he left behind did not hear it or chose to ignore it. 

Moses, an exile in the land of Midian, named his son Gershom, for, he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.  The Dead said, What a long, strange trip it’s been.  I can identify with both.  Right now, I’m probably inclined to be less attached to this life than I was a month ago, but it has been a long time since I believed that my earthly existence was anything other than a passage to the truly significant. 

We are not talking about physical death and new life in heaven.  Heaven begins when we turn from the world.  Eternal life begins, not at the edge of the open grave but at the moment we turn to Christ, the Open Door.  Who that has stepped through the Door and entered into the land where light is as solid as gold would turn away to the ghostly, hopeless, leaf-on-the-wind existence he knew before? 

If they had been thinking of that land …” – that was the mistake the Israelites made as they wandered through the desert.  They dwelt by their thoughts in Egypt still.  They longed for that from which they had not turned.  Instead of looking ahead and seeking the kingdom -- the Land of Promise, the land of milk and honey, they spoke of melons and onions – bitter enough when they could have them, now sweetened and enriched by memory. 

Sometimes I am no better when I think of the past as a land to which I would return, to moments when I would do things differently, when I think, If I had known then what I know now.  I forget that those moments were the path that led me to this Door, to the land of resurrection where that which has died as seed lives again in full bloom.  God will forgive us our sighs and even turn them to smiles as we press on.

To be happy on this journey we need only [s]et [our] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2).


John Lien said...

We feel alienated. So much of what seems to captivate worldlings appears to us to be empty, as nourishing as sawdust. We may wonder what we are missing.

Yeah, that feeling of alienation started way back in high school for me.

I think I was born in the wrong century.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I second what John said. Except I felt alienated even before high school. Maybe that explains why I'm not an extrovert, but there's probably more to it than that. There always is.

mushroom said...

I'm an introvert, too. I know what you mean.