It seems we’re all looking for something cheap. We all like a good deal. When I googled the word “cheap,” I got 396 million results in .32 seconds. Cheap shoes, cheap flights, cheap restaurants, cheap hotels, cheap cars, cheap gas, cheap cell phones, cheap art… the list is endless.
Since I wrote my last blog post, Cheap Forgiveness, I have gotten over 300 comments (and rapidly increasing) — mostly from those pesky robots selling cheap knock offs of the designer labels. Whether we’re selling or buying it seems like there’s a lot of cheap stuff available in life.
It occurred to me that sometimes we all settle for less than the real thing — in order to have what we want in the moment? We try to meet our own “needs,” we look for cheap imitations of God’s gifts of love, peace, abundance and joy.
We are sojourners here on earth. Heaven is our home, and we’re all equipped with a desire and a hunger for all God and His kingdom are. We wonder at our purpose and the afterlife. We search for meaning and significance. We question violence, pain and illness. We aren’t quite okay with how things are on earth, because we were made for something more!
Consider the familiar story of The Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32 — with a little poetic license. The younger son was spoiled rotten. He had it all, but it wasn’t enough. (‘It’ never is, is it?) He didn’t want to be a part of his father’s household. He wanted independence! To live life his way, so he took early payment on the inheritance he felt entitled to and ran. He lived it up on the “best” the world could offer him — and wasted everything. He was broke and living in a pigpen.
He tried to make the pigpen a home. He threw a blanket on the straw and called it a bed. Ketchup on the slop and called it dinner. Possibly even lipstick on a sow and called her sweetie, but as the old saying goes, lipstick on a pig doesn’t change the truth.
We do our best to create the “good life” in the here and now. Fancy cars, homes, and trips. Nothing is too much and nothing is quite enough. We need better. We need more. More money, better clothes, more customers, better grades, more memberships, better schools, more friends… finish the thought with whatever you and your family are focused on or hoping for. Many of these are good things that God intends for us to enjoy. But are they Life?
Some people seem to grab on to Jesus early, and focus on Him. Others are more like the prodigal’s older brother (another story altogether). I think I’ve resembled both sons at different times of my life. Definitely, even as a Christian, I have tried to find and enjoy life my way at times.
Eventually, we realize the next achievement, the next good time or big toy is always a little further down the road, and we aren’t satisfied. We are forced to choose. Either we pretend the life we’ve created is wonderful; that it’s all we want and need — or we can swallow our pride, turn our backs on the pigpens we’ve called home, and humbly return to the Father for Life, like the prodigal son.
This is always Jesus’ desire and invitation to us! “Seek first the King’s (God’s) plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ — everything in heaven and on earth.” (Ephesians 1:10) It’s all a matter of primary focus.
We are on a wonderful, adventurous journey! God wants us to experience joy along the way, but the destination is our goal. We must keep it in sight. If all we care about is our comfort and the quality of our travel, the route we will take, who we will sit by, and will it be in first class… If our focus is what it will take to pay our way? Where will we go next and what can we buy along the way … we will be settling for way less satisfaction that God intended.
Our hearts tell us that we were made for more. That the good life is somewhere else. We may not know exactly where we are going, but we know the journey is not our home. “God… has planted eternity in the human heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Life on earth is just the beginning!
I am turning 50 soon. To some that sounds ancient. Others think wistfully back to 50 as young. I’m wanting to age gracefully and say today is the best day of my life! Somedays it’s true… others, not so much! No matter where we are chronologically in our journey — youthful and idealistic, in the midlife sandwich generation, in our golden years, or even prematurely facing death — it is tempting to look back and believe our best years are behind us. Worse yet, we can look back with regrets, feeling we squandered opportunities on worldly pursuits — trying to comfort ourselves and provide for our own life apart from God.
In the words of Max Lacado, “Hogwash! You will do your best work in heaven. Do you regret wasting seasons of life on foolish pursuits? So do I. But we can stop our laments. We have an eternity to make up for lost time. Are you puzzled by the challenges of your days? Then see yourself as a jewel and God as a lapidary. He is polishing you for your place in his kingdom. Your biggest moments lie ahead, on the other side of the grave. ” I love this quote, especially as I consider the very strange possibility that at least half my life on earth is behind me.
So what does it all mean for NOW? “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1) That means we obsess about God and His Kingdom. Keep Him in mind all the time. He is with us. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy the tangible and intangible gifts of this life. The people, the places, and whatever God blesses us with. But first and foremost remember God. It’s all about Him. Knowing HIm. Loving Him. His plans and desires for us should be our own.
“I have called you friends.” (John 15:15) Knowing Jesus is life’s greatest joy and greatest achievement. Keeping Heaven in sight means giving Jesus our attention first, as our first love. He becomes more and more real as we spend time with Him.
Sometimes we say we don’t have time for prayer or Bible Study. But what is so pressing? Isn’t it the things of the world that we are putting ahead of Jesus? Seeking God through prayer, if you think about it, is the biggest time SAVER in the world! How much is squandered by chasing and building our own pigpens, instead of knowing, loving and listening to the Creator — the One who will soon welcome us home — no matter where we are in life’s journey.
John 14 1-7 (MSG) 1-4 “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking.”
5 Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”
6-7 Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”