Friday, June 8, 2018
Philippians 3:10b – 11 …becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
I have seen the recent movie “I Can Only Imagine” two times now, and I could see it again. I can listen to the song over and over and never grow tired of it. It strikes a chord deep in my soul that expresses the longing of my heart to be with my Savior.
Have you tried to imagine what it will be like to be perfect? You should, because believe it or not, you’re not yet! Neither am I! But what an awesome thought to think that someday – maybe yet today – we will be made perfect in the presence of Jesus Christ for eternity.
The most incredible part of that whole idea is that I am so unworthy of it. I think Paul was feeling the same thing when he wrote that somehow he wanted to attain to the resurrection from the dead. After being overwhelmed with the privilege of knowing Jesus Christ intimately, and experiencing God’s gifts of righteousness, power, and fellowship, Paul is ecstatic that there’s still more. As if having all those benefits in this life were not enough, Jesus offers one more – eternal life beyond this one.
I think that of all the benefits of knowing Jesus, this should be the most exciting. However, for most of us it has taken an undeserved back seat to the others. It’s easy to become focused on the immediate and forget to consider the future. But as we said yesterday, when Jesus was on the earth, He kept his eyes on the future so He could make it through the present. Do you remember what we read in Hebrews 12? Jesus considered the joy that was set before Him so He could endure the suffering of the cross.
Likewise, it is the joy of the hope of glory that has been set before us that gives us the strength to endure what is set upon us. Unfortunately, we tend to get so busy trying to experience the most out of the immediate that we lose heart and grow weary. But just one glimpse of heaven can restore us. Just wondering what’s there and what it will be like stimulates me.
René Champion was a wanderer, looking for this world to satisfy his every need. The impulse that drove him to leave Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1937 at age 16 kept him on the road for the next four years. René was born to an unwed mother in Paris in 1921. When he was eight months old, his mother placed him in a children’s home and emigrated to America. He did not see her again until she sent for him in September 1929.
Arriving in the United States on the eve of the Great Depression, René’s boyhood years were marked by want and poverty. When he left home he became a hobo, hopping boxcars to travel the United States. At the age of 17, he became a farmhand for a widow named Pearl, who took him to some revival meetings under a tent. He went forward and accepted Christ, and started to preach immediately afterward.
René says, I felt at peace with myself, even believing that this was what I was seeking in my life as a vagabond. But it didn’t last, because he didn’t stop seeking. He still thought this life had to have more. He couldn’t rest in the hope of heaven, and he soon returned to hopping boxcars and living the life of a vagabond, searching for what he thought only the world could offer. When asked what kept him going, he replied, I knew all about hunger, cold, and nights in jail. I was lonely all the time, sometimes to the point of being unbearable. What kept me going was the freedom of it — and my curiosity to see what lay on the other side of the mountain or beyond the next horizon.
That should be our attitude about heaven – curiosity to see what’s on the other side of the mountain of problems and beyond the next horizon of hope. Planning for heaven makes us want to live righteously so we look like we belong there. Living like we belong there brings the power of heaven into the present. And living in the power of God despite the current circumstances enhances our fellowship with Jesus, who lived that way for us. We have available to us all the things René Champion was looking for but never really found. We simply need to look beyond the immediate.
The hope of glory is where it all starts, and should be the starting point for every day of our lives. Somehow, someday, by the grace of God, we will see Jesus, and then we will be able to say, “It was worth it all, and it is more than I imagined!”