As I am preparing for a long awaited trip to babysit my grandchildren for an extended time, I realize how excited I have been for this occasion. My one suitcase, dedicated solely to gifts and projects, has been pretty much packed for a week. Its contents were purchased at various times and places as I shopped. My favorites were the unexpected little treasures that I didn’t go looking for, but found along the way. I have been saving up so we can afford some special outings, perhaps a movie, and certainly dinners and desserts. I have been carefully watching the weather and possible flight alterations. As for my other suitcase, I have tried to anticipate any and all needed clothing and accessories for the planned and unexpected. I have prepared freezer meals and loaded the pantry for my wonderful husband who is staying behind to work. Pretty much everyone I know has been told about the upcoming trip, and details abound.
My flight reading has been carefully chosen and put into my overhead bag, my driver’s license and boarding pass info at the ready. Then I went to bed before my normal bedtime to get enough sleep for my early flight.
All this happened for a treasured event that is now a lovely memory. It made me think about what I am doing to prepare for a life with God in an eternal kingdom where only righteousness dwells and love is the currency. It dawned on me that my heavenly bank account may be a little low for such a destination, and that my preparations could use some attention.
I so quickly forget that my time here is a gateway to how I will spend a timeless existence. It is a proving ground to demonstrate what I truly value. It is boot camp to prepare my mind and soul for life in an eternal kingdom. My choices now in time will determine how I will enjoy life without it.
How easily I fall prey to the “tyranny of the urgent” – those insistent but legitimate claims on my schedule and energy. When I say ‘fall prey’ I am not dismissing the need to take care of the necessities of this life, but I am thinking of how focused I become on things that are, in the long run, of no eternal worth. I believe that the most menial activities of my life, done with diligence and recognition that God has set me on this particular path, are eternalized with devotion to Him. However, I personally find it incredibly easy to become so absorbed in the details that I fail to function from a sense of His will and so quickly I take matters into my own hands. This is a delicate matter, as He has given me a brain and talents and asks for a partner – not a robot. I know I am in trouble, however, when I find myself stressing about the trifles. Before I know it, I am mentally going this thing alone, then seeking the credit or bearing the guilt, depending on the outcome. When it’s all about me I forget about others – whether that means people or God. My task list has a check mark for accomplishment, but too often there are also tire tracks over others who might have been unfortunately in the way.
I also find the alternative. I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a flickering box watching drivel or in front of a computer screen watching – well – drivel. I can never replace the time I waste. I for one want to adjust my schedule so I don’t succumb to excessive mindless entertainment and electronic isolation. You probably know the research about how our minds are subtly (or not) shaped and directed by media. And not toward an everlasting kingdom! The Bible is basically the story of relationships – intertwining lives – people and how they interact with other people and God. The backdrop is the Lord of the universe seeking – yes – relationship with His reluctant human creation. I guess I need to take example from that and spend more time with people and less time with things. People should be more interesting than media, perhaps more challenging, probably less compliant, but definitely worth the effort.
To do these things with grace I need to follow the example of my Savior and take time to be alone with my Father, seeking His thoughts and talking to Him. I am a procrastinator ‘par exsalonce’ by nature, and it is much easier to do things than to make time to be quiet. And I mean be quiet in an all inclusive way – to quiet the outer and inner noise, still the thoughts, and just be alone with my Maker. It can actually be terrifying! One has a greater chance of facing the actual ‘you’ rather than the comforting illusion we create for ourselves. Somewhere in Scripture people who flee from the presence of God are referred to as shadows chasing illusions. I always thought that was the other guy.
So I guess I will follow the advice of Dallas Willard:
1-Decide where you’re going
2 -Decide what you need to live there successfully
3-Make provision to do it
This is as good a time as any to make a few tweaks to the lifestyle to prepare for the inevitable Trip!