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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

"We're Not Home Yet!"

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands" (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Early in the last century an old missionary couple who had been working in Africa for many years returned to America to retire.  With no pension and broken in health, they were discouraged, and somewhat fearful of the future.

They happened to be booked on the same ship as Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from a big-game hunting expedition.  They watched the passengers trying to glimpse the great man, the crew fussing over him.  At the dock in New York a band was waiting to greet the president…but the missionary couple slipped off the ship unnoticed.

That night the man's spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can't take this; God is not treating us fairly."  His wife suggested he go in the bedroom and tell the Lord.

A short time later he came out with a face completely changed.  His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?"

"The Lord settled it with me," he said.  "I told him how bitter I was that the president should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home.  And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said, 'But you're not home yet!'" *

Safely Home - Art by Ron DiCianni Several years ago we were in Eureka Springs Arkansas during a vacation and visited an art gallery with original art work by Ron DiCianni, one of my favorite Christian artists.  The particular picture shown at the left is titled "Safely Home" and touches my heart as I reflect on our eternal home and future homecoming.

In the daily text the Apostle Paul is speaking of our temporary situation. "Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."  That's a good verse to hide deep in the heart.  Elsewhere in Scripture we read, "For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14). The Apostle James describes this temporary situation quite graphically, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14).

It's interesting that in the daily text Paul speaks of the "earthly tent" which underscores the temporariness of our present life. A commentary makes this observation: "The figure of a tent picturing the human body suggests impermanence and insecurity and is a common picture of earthly life and its setting in the body."

The ongoing challenge for all of us is not driving the stakes in too deep in this present "tent".  We are not home yet.  Thus we must take care not getting too settled or comfortable.  That's particularly true for those of us who live in relative affluence, which can be such a seducing trap. One day we will be transferred to our permanent home!

Our future home is "a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands."  Wow, what a description that defies our limited comprehension! Today may this description encourage those whose loved ones have departed from their earthly existence. May it also encourage those dealing with ongoing physical affliction or situations in this life that seem so broken. Fellow believer, today let us stand firm in our faith. Remember we're not home yet!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's prayer: Jesus, so many of my ongoing frustrations and disappointments are a result of limiting my vision to this life only.  My eternal existence in a heavenly dwelling fills me with hope that is not fleeting or circumstantial, but is fixed upon a future time and place. Keep my feet from traveling on roads that lead to nowhere but seem easy and quick to travel. Enable me to loosen my grip on this life so that I will arrive safely home in the everlasting life to come.

* This story is from a devotional book titled "My Time With God" by Donald McCullough.

Randy Alcorn shares a powerful perspective concerning this concept in his book "Safely Home".

Safely HomeSafely Home  By Randy Alcorn / Tyndale House
"Is this the day I die?" wonders Li Quan as he endures persecution for his faith. Half a world away his college buddy, businessman Ben Fielding, steps on the plane to China. Reunited after 20 years, both men face decisions that will determine their destinies---and the fates of their nations and the world. 400 pages, softcover from Tyndale.  Here's an excerpt.

Here's a webpage that shows small images of other art by Ron DiCianni.

Final perspective: Several years ago a friend of mine "lost" his father. He wrote this note to me following the funeral service. "Yes, I do remember getting to spend a few moments talking with you around the time we all said good-bye to Dad. You know, at first I would say, "I lost my Father..." But, in reality, when you lose something, you don't know where it is. Well, I KNOW where my Father is. So, now I don't say "I lost my Father..." Now I say, "My Dad recently moved into his mansion..." It not only helps me keeps things in perspective, but it has really helped open up dialogue to individuals who don't yet know Christ!"

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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