"Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home." - C. S. Lewis

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Just Passing Through

Growing up, my brother and I always looked forward to spending the night in a hotel with our parents.  Staying in hotels was rare for us, and always so exciting!  We loved everything about the hotel experience: the swimming pool, a TV with more channels than we had at home, and the yummy breakfast in the lobby (especially when it offered a self-serve waffle-maker).  What's not to love?

Of course, we were there for other reasons.  Sometimes we were attending a family reunion, or we were on vacation.  In either case, we were typically just passing through the area, although my brother and I would have been happy to spend the entire vacation within the walls of our hotel.

For forty years, Moses and the Israelite tribes trekked through the Middle Eastern desert.  They lived in tents and survived on food God rained down from the sky.  Even the Tabernacle was a tent, so when the call came to move on, God's Presence would travel with them.

I wonder if the Israelites ever wanted to stay where their tents were already pitched?  It must have been tiring to pack up all of their belongings (again) and leave behind what they had grown accustomed to (again) to travel to some unknown, unseen place (again).

But this was not their home.  They were just passing through as they made their way to the Promised Land.

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland...But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city" (Hebrews 11:13-16).

As the Israelites passed each day inside their tents, they were reminded that their stay was not permanent.  No matter how much easier it would have been to put down roots and make a more permanent home, they were traveling to a better place.

A hotel stay is supposed to be a temporary visit for the guest to rest and recharge - and then get up and continue on their journey.  We aren't supposed to get used to all the extra luxuries (no matter how many channels the TV offers).  The hotel itself is never our destination.

As C.S. Lewis once said, "Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home."  Throughout all of history, the faithful followers of God have been "seeking a homeland" - and this world is not it.

We aren't called to get comfortable here.  Heaven is our home, and any comforts and special blessings we find on this earth are, like C.S. Lewis said, merely "pleasant inns."  We are just passing through!  Our true home awaits...
Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, August 16, 2013

What Matters More

I was playing piano during the worship service at our church.  This doesn't happen often, but I'm glad for the opportunity when it does.  I was nervous (as usual), and there were a couple of hymns I didn't know as well as I would have liked.  I suppose it was inevitable...

Sure enough, it happened.  About halfway through one of the hymns, I hit the wrong note.  I still don't know how many people noticed (I was afraid to ask), but it was loud and clear to me.

Suddenly, I was even more nervous than before.  I had a hard time playing notes and stanzas that I had easily played at home.  In one hymn, I even had to stop playing for a measure or two and then start again.  And everyone was there to hear it!

Finally, I finished the last verse of the last hymn.  Relieved (but embarrassed), I returned to my seat, only for my brother to point out that I had only played four verses of the last song (there were five).  I'm grateful that the music leader is capable of impromptu.

Back in my seat, I listened to the sermon off and on as my mind wandered.  Why did my mistakes bother me so much?  What was I so concerned about?

When I pulled myself back to the present moment (and the sermon), I heard: "You will know what a person's heart is like by their actions, attitudes, their words...and how they respond when things don't go quite so well."

Hmmm.  By "how they respond when things don't go quite so well."  Like when I miss a note on the piano.  More than once.  In front of the entire church.  And here I was, lost in my thoughts about my piano proficiency and embarrassed at what others must think.

There was more to the sermon, of course.  "A person's life is a reflection of what is in their hearts...Spiritual fruit in a person's life cannot happen unless the heart is set to glorify God."

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?"
Galatians 1:10

As I sat in church that morning, I knew that my heart was not set on God's glory.  I was thinking (and caring) more about what others thought of me, my skills, my abilities.

But at the end of the day, what others may think of me or my skills will not matter.  At all.  What will matter more?

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23-24

That is better than the applause of man any day.

Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net