Modifying God’s Plans

Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold, the LORD, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun.  ‘I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.'” Then Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”  She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:6-9 NASB)

This probably never happens to you, but have you ever tried to bargain with God to change His plans for you?  I have.  Don’t.  Barak did, and his fun ended at a woman’s tent.  See, God will modify His plans to accommodate us, and our level of faith.  But those accommodations often will make clear that we need to up our game with Him, because we will see what we missed with our modifications.

Barak is told that if he will drag himself out in front of the army of Naphtali and Zebulun, then God will drag his enemy out to be defeated.  Well, fine, but Barak wants the prophet, the ‘mouthpiece’ for God, to come along as assurance.  After all, God wouldn’t let anything happen to her, right?  What if he needed a last-minute insight?  What if he didn’t understand the instructions (which seems to have happened)?

Barak wanted to obey, but with conditions.  His faith wasn’t where it needed to be for full obedience.  God called him to put 10,000 men up against 900 chariots and other soldiers.  That was simply too intimidating.  Those chariots just roll right over people.  They’re just not safe at all.  So, Barak wanted additional assurance that this scary plan would work.  And he got it.

The modification of Barak cost him the final victory, but not God.  God still won, but He used another woman, Jael.  Barak was not the guy.  He didn’t get Sisera, the chariot general of Jabin.  Jael, the wife of an ally of Jabin, got the general, and she got him with a tent peg through the temple, into the ground.  Very dramatic ending, but not very manly.  Barak was kept from defeating Sisera, but God still won the victory.

In similar ways, my Master will accomplish His plans, with or without me.  He will accomplish these plans using me as He intends, or, if my faith just isn’t there, in whatever way He wants, just with diminished returns for me.  I gain from my participation in His plans only to the level of my faith.  In other words, my level of cooperation determines the quality of what I get out of that cooperation.

God does negotiate.  Anyone reading Genesis 18:20-23 (a passage to be read with a Yiddish accent, or misunderstood) knows God negotiates.  In some ways, the Middle Eastern Bizarre is more the setting for our relationship than the military chain of command.  On the other hand, it’s in the midst of those negotiations that we lose something of what our Master has for us.  That’s what we bargain away.

On the other hand, there are times when our Master intends for us to negotiate; that’s the act of obedience.  Moses is told to step away from the Sons of Israel for Yahweh is going to destroy them.  But Moses negotiates for their survival.  That is what God wanted from Moses; that was the act of obedience.  So, how do you know?  What is it that tells you that negotiation isn’t obedience or that negotiation is the obedient thing?

The only way I can think of is to get to know God better.  The better we know His voice, His character, His plans and desires become clearer, and we’ll be able to better distinguish His will.  Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  It is the experience we gain with and of God that enables us to know God’s mind, His will, and then be obedient.  Then we will know the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Well, that’s my view through this knothole.  What’s your view of God through the fence today?

How to Play With New Toys

Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died.
And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. (Judges 4:1-2 NASB)

Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, “Behold, the LORD, the God of Israel, has commanded, ‘Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and from the sons of Zebulun.  ‘I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his many troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand.'” (Judges 4:6-7 NASB)

Then they told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor.
Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. (Judges 4:12-13 NASB)

The LORD routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot.
But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left. (Judges 4:15-16 NASB)

Okay, that’s a lot of the chapter, but there is something here that is probably obvious to those in “Iron Age II” Israel which completely escapes us.  As has been pointed out in previous entries, these accounts of the Judges of Israel take place in the late bronze age, right on the cusp of the Iron Age.  But as with all technological advances, iron wasn’t achieved by everyone at once.  It was used by large “empires” but not by small city states, at least generally speaking.

With Sisera though, there may be something to the 900 iron chariots.  The clue is in the name of the city in which he lives and in which his army is garrisoned, Harosheth.  The name is literally “Craftsmen of the Nations”.  You have to admit, that’s a weird name.  The word for “craftsmen” can refer to anyone working anything, wood, metal, fabric, pottery, and so on.  Since it also includes “blacksmiths”, it’s fair to say that they could have had people who could work iron.

Here’s the problem though.  In order to work iron, there would need to be some familiar with it, and those people were typically found in large empires, and the skills and people carefully guarded (see 1 Samuel 13:19-22 for a biblical reference to this historical tidbit).  If you keep this in mind, then what was done was more likely taking existing material and fixing or adapting it.  So, the craftsmen of the nations collected and maintained the various chariots gathered from the battlefields of the major kings and Pharaohs.

How familiar they were with these weapons they “inherited” becomes clear when we see they tried to take them through the river Kishon.  Heavy, horse-drawn carts, made heavier by plating them with iron, will not go through mud very well.  Every river will have some mud (some, like the Mississippi, even more so).  How does a seasoned charioteer not know their heavy vehicle will not handle mud well?  Perhaps all mud is not equal?  In any case, they tried, and failed, to move 900 chariots through a river, and were massacred by foot soldiers.

The point I gain is this: just because the problem, or person, or situation, I face looks intimidating, if my Master has led to the fight, I’ve already won.  How was Barak to know Sisera didn’t know chariots don’t float?  How am I to know what whatever opposes my work for my Master does or doesn’t know, have, can or can’t do, or whatever?  I don’t.  So, my Master calls me to trust that He knows.  Just because my opponent has 900 iron chariots (or the modern equivalent thereof) doesn’t mean my Master doesn’t know something about this opponent I don’t know.  What I see is not what my Master sees.

This means that I can fearlessly tackle my calling.  That’s not typically my way, but it can be.  It really should be, because I know the stories, I’ve read about the people, and I know their circumstances were pretty much like mine.  So, it’s time to act.  Time to make a list, and begin accomplishing the things I’m called to accomplish by my Master.  No opponent can oppose such a calling nor the work to accomplish it.  I’ve already won.

What’s your view of God through your knothole?

A Walk Through Scripture

One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.  But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.”  And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.  (Luke 24:18-27 NASB)

What if the worst of all possible outcomes, actually wasn’t all that bad?  What if what you thought was the end, wasn’t?  Do you still hope?  Can you?  Should you?  You could be disappointed again.  Do you really want to come crashing down again?  Hope is one of the more dangerous of emotional states.  And yet, for followers of Jesus, absolutely necessary to follow Him.

This challenge to have courage enough to hope once more is what Jesus addresses on the road to Emmaus.  It isn’t that they don’t get it, or weren’t told.  It’s not a problem solved by explaining.  They still didn’t get it after Jesus explained it.  They didn’t lack information, they lacked hope.  And without hope, there can be no faith.

Surely you’ve been there; that place where everything seems to have gone so wrong, here there is no possibility of restoration.  Perhaps in a marriage, a friendship, in another sort of relationship.  Maybe with your job, or church, or among fellow believers.  You look at it, and it’s hopeless.  There are no more good outcomes possible.  Those options have passed, and nothing more remains but to mourn what could have been.

It’s into that dark place this account of Jesus shines.  These guys had an opportunity to claim the hope back.  They opted not to.  It was too much, too expensive emotionally.  It was too crazy to hope in the face of such utter defeat, such crushing disappointment and disillusionment.  Ironically, it is their illusions that obscure the hope.

In your times of dark hopelessness, as you walk along in your life, a stranger walks up and asks, “What’s up?”  Your vision is obscured by hopelessness, and you’re prevented from recognizing the stranger.  And as you explain your hopeless situation, the stranger chuckles, and shakes his head.  And then, with gentleness, as you walk along together, he begins to re-frame your hopeless situation with the framework of your Creator.

Hope, illusive and dangerous, ignites in your soul.  You’re not sure, you’re not comfortable, and you hesitate to embrace it.  As you walk, as he speaks more about the power of God at work all around you.  As you nod, and things in your mind shift, memories rearrange, another picture emerges from the puzzle pieces.  You begin to grasp that you had them in the wrong place and intended picture was lost.

And then you’re at your destination, and the stranger continues, but you must hear more.  The picture still isn’t complete enough to calm your fears.  And he stays!  Hope flares more brightly!  He comes in and eats with you, and you suddenly realize Who has walked with you is He in Whom you lost hope.  The hope wakens fully to fill your soul with the warmth of light and life.  He disappears from your sight, but remains burned into your mind.  You must share, for others have lost hope as well.  So, you rise up, and run home.

Have you been on the Road to Emmaus, thinking you were headed into an episode of the Twilight Zone?  That sign post up ahead probably doesn’t say what you think it does.  As you go your way, remember to talk to strangers.  They often have something hopeful to share.

What’s your view through your knothole this morning?

Passion Week XXVI

Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate.  And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”  So Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”  Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” (Luke 23:1-4 NASB)

Having concluded that Jesus claims to be God, and therefore, deity, the religious leaders take Him to Pilate for execution.  The problem is that claiming to be a foreign god isn’t a “hanging offense” under Roman law.  But rebels are punished pretty quickly, so they accuse Jesus of sedition (just to be able to use that word in a sentence).

Their initial accusations refer back to some of their confrontations during the week, like paying taxes.  But others refer to Jesus as claiming to be a king, and that He claims to be an “anointed one”.  Being anointed does have meaning in Roman and Greek culture, just not exactly the same meaning.  Anointing for Greeks and Romans is what you did with medicine on a wounded person.  But the Romans were very aware of the political ramifications of anointing to the Jews.  So when the Jewish leaders say, “king”, Pilate begins his interrogation.

The Problem for Pilate is that when asked, Jesus doesn’t go frothing-at-the-mouth crazy.  That would have made the job easier, and it’s what others did.  But instead, Jesus is calmly saying yes in an oblique manner.  So, Pilate returns and says he finds no guilt in Jesus.

In other Gospels, more detail is supplied about Pilate’s predicament.  His wife warns him to stay out of it.  Jesus has no problem with Pilate’s authority, and claims His kingdom is from another realm (does Pilate think He’s nuts?).  Regardless which Gospel you read, Pilate does not have a rebel before Him, only rabid religious leaders.  The ones frothing-at-the-mouth crazy, inciting a riot among the people, are the ones seeking to have Jesus crucified.  It’s a tragic irony.  And at some point, it really comes down to keeping the peace during the festival.

Still, Pilate will be trying other means to apply a modicum of justice to the event.  Of course, it won’t work.  Unbeknownst to everyone but Jesus, He has an appointment with a cross, at a particular hour on that that specific day.  It’s an appointment set when the universe was created, to be heralded by signs in the sun and moon.  How could Pilate know?  How could the religious leaders have known?  Jesus knew.  Jesus sees this act unfold exactly as written by the Playwright of Heaven.  But Jesus also knows this isn’t His final act.

When confronted with social and cultural pressure to disavow Jesus, what do we do?  Far too often, we do the expedient thing.  In order to not be offensive, we decide to prevent a riot, to keep the peace.  Too many things go wrong with that behavior.  The “reasonable” believers are stuck in the middle between rabid-frothing-at-the-mouth religious nuts wanting to kill everyone disagreeing with them, and the comfortable religious sanguine group who sell out the practice of their faith in Jesus to a bowl of mixed nuts.  Many in the middle are caught between the desire to simply minister to the hurts of humanity, and the clamor for lies in the society at large.

Jesus neither held a sign saying “God hates everybody”, nor did He simply “go along to get along” with the religious leaders.  He wandered the region healing, preaching the truth, raising the dead, and casting out demons.  Jesus set a course, and everyone else could either get on board or watch from the dock as He left them behind.  He invited some, some of those accepted His invitation, and others didn’t.  But He didn’t deviate from His goal, His appointment with a cross.

I suspect our problem is more about not having that sense of divine goal or purpose.  We don’t seek the definitions of our lives which only our Master provides.  When we do, we don’t like the answers we get.  The purpose is behind us, but we won’t turn around.  The goal lies in a direction we’ve already rejected, so we don’t see it.  We look without turning the head or lifting the clutter of our lives.  What we want is for our Master to confirm our goals and purposes.  What He wants is for us to follow Jesus to a cross.  So, we check our calendars for the first opening we can find.  But, finding no convenient time to be tortured to death, we ask for another goal or purpose.  In a sense, we, once again, choose from the tree providing us the right and power to choose good and evil for ourselves.

Life lies at the end of a path through a method of humiliating death.  Death is found on every other path. Discipleship, repentance, and faith are the ingredients resulting in love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  We want those things, but balk at the price God charges.  Will we be crucified with Christ, and no longer live?  Will we live this life in the body by faith in the Son of God who has loved us and gave Himself for us?  We can’t have one with out the other.  That’s just how this play was written.  We can try to write another, but the warning from Scripture is that such a play is always a tragedy.

What’s your view through your knothole this morning?

Passion Week XXIV

But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.  The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, “Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?”  And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming. (Luke 22:60-65 NASB)

Only in Luke does Jesus look directly at Peter when the rooster crows.  It’s probably a literary device for heightened dramatic effect.  But it’s also inspired Scripture.  To ask if Jesus did or didn’t misses the point.  The point is made in the combination of verses 31 through 34 with these verses.  Yes, Jesus predicted Peter’s denial.  But He also prayed for Peter’s faith, that he would return and strengthen his brothers.  Left by itself, without the additional context of verses 31 through 34, this can seem to be Jesus’ accusing stare.  But with the context it can be better understood as Jesus’ understanding and encouraging stare.

Peter had wandered away from his intent in the courtyard.  He had been sifted like wheat.  It was brutal.  It was a testing few of us have had to endure with such stakes.  Arguments can be made that he didn’t have the Holy Spirit at the time; Peter didn’t have the death, burial, and resurrection to bolster his understanding at the time; or whatever we can come up with to explain Peter’s struggle in the courtyard.  Whatever our explanation, the truth is that he failed to acknowledge his relationship with Jesus, and so have we.  The additional truth is that Jesus already saw that part, but looked forward to Peter’s return, and so He does with us.

What I gain from this is a view of something my Master has given me as a purpose.  He has told me that I am to wait, worship, and walk before Him.  Part of the truth of that third element is that, when I too fail, my Master looks right at me.  When I fail, my Master locks eyes with me.  He doesn’t turn away.  He doesn’t ignore what I did.  He doesn’t point a finger, but looks into my eyes, the windows of my soul.  And I believe He acknowledges that it’s time for the next step, returning.  His look is not accusatory, not a look of disappointment, not a look of disdain or rejection.  His look is one of understanding and invitation.  It’s time to return.  This is part of “walking before Him”, not that I won’t fail as I do, but that as I fail in in His presence, He calls me back.

Peter remembers his Master predicting his failure.  He leaves and weeps bitterly.  But he returns.  In the moment, it’s not about his return.  In the moment the rooster crows, and Jesus looks into his eyes, all Peter can think of is his failure.  He was sifted and found lacking.  The accuser shouts in his head that he failed, and is not worthy to even follow Jesus, perhaps even that what’s happening to Jesus is somehow Peter’s fault.  He weeps bitterly.  Judas will feel remorse and weep bitterly, but from there the paths diverge.  Peter returns and strengthens his brothers.  Judas does not.  Both betrayed Jesus in a sense.  But only one returned.

Feel the stare of Jesus.  Look into His eyes.  When you fail, stumble, or fall, what will you do?  Will you look into the eyes of Jesus and think only of your failure?  Or will you hear His voice calling you back, and when you have returned, strengthen your family of fellow believers?  It’s okay that your failure distracts you and to weep bitterly.  But don’t let it consume you.  Your Master calls you back.  We need your strengthening.

I was going to go on about how ironic it was for the guards to ask Jesus to prophesy who hit Him.  He had just had a recent prediction come to completion with Peter’s denial.  But this sort of wrote itself.  It was ironic.  I’ll leave it at that.  Now, Jesus is calling you back.  What will you do?

What’s your view of Jesus through your knothole?

Passion Week XIXf

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:31-34 NASB)

God, the Father, has granted Satan’s request to sift Peter like wheat. But Jesus intercedes for Peter, which is Jesus’ role after His ascension. Awesome! With Jesus interceding, Peter can’t fail, right?  Well, not exactly. In fact Jesus doesn’t even pray that Peter won’t fail. How is that even possible? Doesn’t Jesus want Peter to succeed?  And I think we would agree that, of course, Jesus wants Peter to succeed.  So why didn’t Jesus pray that Peter would succeed?  Trick question alert! If you look at the wording above, you see that Jesus did pray for Peter to succeed.

Jesus didn’t pray that Peter wouldn’t deny Him. He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. In other words, the definition we have of failure was different than Jesus’. Success as Jesus defined it wasn’t that Peter never make a mistake, but that Peter never let a mistake keep him from Jesus.  That’s an important distinction. Isn’t it true that when we think our mistakes are failures to Jesus that we also think our relationship with Him is dependent upon us? But when we continually repent of our mistakes, our relationship with Jesus remains dependent upon Him; it’s no longer based on  our success rate.

This is proven when Peter declares his unwavering support to Jesus, and Jesus responds predicting Peter’s denial. Jesus knew of Peter’s denial, and prayed that his faith would not fail.  And what Jesus meant by unfailing faith is found in His continuation, “…and when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Success for Jesus is Peter’s repentance back to leading his fellow disciples; his return to his calling.

So, success for me in my walk with Jesus is repentance from my mistakes back to my calling in His service.  It is Satan who wants my mistakes to define me. Only the enemy of my soul has a vested interest in using my mistakes to distract me from my Master’s call on my life.  And when I give in to such distractions, I deny my dependence upon my Master for my relationship with Him.  What is true is that I am Matthew Scott Brumage, son of Lloyd, Knight of the Realm, Servant of the King, and that He loves me, He has my back, and I am at His service; and He has called me to wait, worship, and walk before Him. That is what is true about me.

So, what is your view through your knothole this morning?

Resurrection Eternal

Now there came to Him some of the Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection), and they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that IF A MAN’S BROTHER DIES, having a wife, AND HE IS CHILDLESS, HIS BROTHER SHOULD MARRY THE WIFE AND RAISE UP CHILDREN TO HIS BROTHER.  Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; and the second and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children.  Finally the woman died also.  In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” (Luke 20:27-33 NASB)

One of the peculiar aspects to the Hebrew Scriptures is the progression of their understanding of “eternal life”.  It is my suspicion that much of religious understanding was simply experiential.  People died…and remained dead.  Therefore people don’t rise from the dead.  Except people did.  So there is some sort of resurrection, but it only happens on special occasions or to special people.

The thing is that there seems to be some sort of belief in existence after death from a very early human history.  It became extremely developed in Egypt, but even so, the earliest human habitation (Jericho) shows evidence of some sort of belief in some of the earliest layers.  There’s not a lot of “evidence” for such existence, so how does “experiential religion” account for such belief?  And believing in “life-after-death” isn’t the same thing as believing in “resurrection”.    So how did some make this connection?

The prophets God sent to Israel seemed to have no problem believing in life, life with others, after death.  Isaiah wrote of it, Ezekiel wrote of it, but Elijah and Elisha actually bring people to life.  Think about that.  Elijah and Elisha didn’t go, “It’s not possible”, they just did it, believing that God makes it happen.  How did they know if it had never happened before?  I suspect that it had done it before but it didn’t make it into the annuls of Scripture.  It wasn’t germane to the story of God’s work with His people, so it was left out; in much the same way details of King Omri were left out (1 Kings 16:16-30).

I think Levirate Marriage is one of those progressions toward believing in resurrection from “life-after-death”.  It’s not spelled out that it came from that, but I think the importance it had indicates it does.  So here’s how I get there:

Eternal life can be understood in terms of living in the memory of your offspring.  You live in their minds and therefore live eternally.  If life is defined relationally, then this makes a degree of sense (see earlier entries on this topic).  So, if a man dies childless, unless the rules of Levirate Marriage are carried out, his eternal life is over.  When someone refuses to carryout the process, they are, in effect, taking his eternal life from their brother or relative.  It’s serious seen from this point of view.

So while the Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection, they did believe in eternal life; just not some sort of “spiritual existence”.  They stopped at the Levirate Marriage rule with their understanding of “eternal life”.  This would make a certain amount of sense for “priests” for whom lineage was everything.  Their understanding would be simply that people die and experience nothing, but live on through their offspring.  Resurrection would imply the possibility of experience after a physical death.  And if death is relational, then death becomes true only from one perspective, the perspective of those still on earth.

Here’s my point, God has revealed to us that there is life, existence and relational experience, after our brains stop waving.  So, why do we focus so much on this one?  Why, if we know that there’s more to follow, do we let this life distract us from that one?  I think it’s because we know so little of the one to come.  We fear what we don’t know, and know more of the loss of this life than the gain in the one to follow.  And if you think about it, God has set it up that way, and perpetuates the lack of knowledge of what’s to come.  We can surmise about His motives in that, but we’re still left with a blind-spot about what’s to come.  What we do know is that it’s life with Him.  I believe He wants that to be enough.

So, is it enough for me?  Is it enough to know that I have eternity with Him facing me?  Will that define my actions and decisions today?  Will that modify my attitude at work, with my co-workers, with my customers, with my circumstances?  Or will it affect how I deal with my wife and daughter?  Will my belief that this is nothing compared to what I have coming change how I deal with my day and those I encounter in it?  Will it change how I face my future, the future of my church, my community, and my plans?  If it does, how will it change or affect these things?  How is my faith in my Master actualized in my behavior and attitudes?  How is eternity with Him driving my point of view, my paradigm, and my life direction?

To put it another way, why do such petty stupid things get me upset if this is nothing to compared to what’s to come?  If I believe that why do stupid things bother me?  Why do I fear?  Why do I get angry?  Why do I have any other emotion than joy all the time, because I have an eternity already.  What more is there that can compare with that?  Why am I tossed off kilter by the small things when I have such an enormous thing already secured?

The truth is that I believe, but clearly need help with my unbelief.  The faith I profess hasn’t yet become so thoroughly pervasive in my life that I know nothing else.  Not yet.

What’s your view through the fence this morning?