This has been a hard week. Images from Haiti have been heartbreaking. A missionary from a church near our home in Garland, Texas was one of the victims pulled from under the tons of debris. It is hard to imagine the anguish in that country. Eldest son Matt shared a quote from one of his mentors at Fellowship Bible Church in Nashville.
"Life is tragic. God is faithful".
So very true. I dialed up a song by Diamond Rio that reflects my heart for my brothers and sisters in the faith who are enduring incredible sadness in Haiti. It also fits for those who are heartbroken in your family or down the street. The song reminds me that this stop is a temporary transit station for eternity.
God only cries for the living,
'Cause it's the living that are left to carry on.
That is a hard truth. The living are left with the financial and legal affairs. Disposing of personal items that generate tearful memories. And the living are left in a place that Scripture tells us is only a temporary dwelling place. Paul writes about our "dual citizenship" in his letter to the Philippians.
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven.
Everyone knows that we have a finite time on earth. I believe that there is more than just my 56 and counting years I will live here. So I must decide how to navigate how I live this life while being mindful of the next. There is a balance that is implied by the concept of dual citizenship. I remember a quote that some Christians are "so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good". That is not what Paul is saying. Clearly we have a spiritual purpose in this life. Jesus gave us our purpose with these two items that He made clear are not just helpful suggestions…they are commandments.
"‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments."
(Heads up to spiritual hall monitors…R-rated movie reference ahead) It reminds me of the line from the movie Bull Durham. "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." In many ways Christianity is a very simple faith that we have made incredibly legalistic and complex. To paraphrase the line above. "You love the Lord your God. You love your neighbor. Sometimes it is easy. Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes life rains on you." I wonder how the body of Christ would be different if we concentrated on those two simple commands? Would we worry so much about the worship music style and the vestibule carpet color? As we concentrated on those two commands we would look forward instead to making the move to our heavenly home.
"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (John 14, NLT)
The song from Diamond Rio echoes the belief that Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a better place.
An' all the angels up in Heaven,
They're not grieving because they're gone.
There's a smile on their faces,
'Cause they're in a better place…
I believe that many saints in Christ who died in Haiti are in a better place. I love my life on this planet. I am not anxious to leave my family and friends. But I am not afraid. This lyric from the song by Diamond Rio portrays a powerful thought.
God only cries for the living,
'Cause it's the living that are so far from home.
That becomes more and more real to me as I get older. I have so many family and friends that have gone ahead to their eternal home. I miss them so much. But I rejoice for them because I am realizing more and more that I am the one who is so far from home.