Growing Into Joy

I have been struck by the changing attitude of my mother over the last few years, especially the last few months.  It seems that her perspective on life has changed.  She has become aware that her future, even her immediate future here on earth, is now limited.  Now, more than ever in her life, heaven has become her future.  Heaven is not just a fuzzy concept but her vacation destination.  Her anticipation is growing leaps and bounds.Through the years I have memories of my mom making plans.  I learned my love of list-making from my mother.  Planning is one of her favorite things.  Well, reading is really a favorite thing.  Singing has always been fun for her.  And food has always been a delight.  But planning, knowing that if you check off the things on the list, this creates a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.But lately, her lists have become more immediate.  Her future plans always include the disclaimer of “unless Jesus comes or I go meet him first”.  And even some of her immediate plans include that disclaimer.  Her focus has changed from furthering her career, watching her children grow, spending time with her loved ones to spending time with God.Everyone who proclaims Christ Jesus to some point will have their focus shifted from worldly pursuits.  We all have our passions.  We all have our careers.  We all have friends and loved ones.  These are people to focus on.  We all have things in our life to do.  And for most of us, heaven seems pretty far away.  Planning for heaven has become fairly secondary.But we are admonished to think about the return of Jesus when we plan our lives.  We are to live our lives as though Jesus may return at any moment.  We are to plan for our future and work for our food and lodging.  But along with that we are to keep in the back of our minds that Jesus could return today.When I was pregnant I understood about preparing for the coming baby and yet continuing on with life now.  During the pregnancy of my middle daughter, I thought that she had dropped 6 weeks before her scheduled arrival.  I was excited.  I tried to arrange things so I would be ready for the baby now.  I rushed some things and then I discovered that while she did drop, she wasn’t ready.  I spent the next 7 weeks in a continual state of anticipation.  I felt that she could come at any time.  But she came when God had divined and not according to my plans.Jesus will come soon.  And that is to be my perception as I look at the things I need to accomplish.  If God wills, I will complete the many tasks that I have before me.  If God wills, I will check off all the things on my list today.  But if I am interrupted and I need to spend some time doing other things, then I will adjust my schedule.Spending time preparing for Christ’s return is important too.  I need to pray every day.  There are people who need help, who need to know God, and my prayers will help do that.  My prayers may even change my heart so that I will help others personally.So does my perspective need to change as much as my mother’s?  It might not hurt.  Seeing the life changes that my parents and my husband’s parents are making now brings home that circumstances do not stay the same.  Life is short.  We don’t know what tomorrow holds.  But God does.  I need to search out God and seek him with my whole heart.  And in doing this seeking, my joyful anticipation for heaven will deepen.  My joy in God will deepen.  And my joy for my life and the reality of what it is will deepen.Lord, help me to seek you more today.  Help me to trust enough in you to allow myself to hear you when you speak to me.  And help me trust you enough to obey you when I hear you.  Thank you for putting a little heaven in my heart so that I will not be satisfied with anything less than you.  Help me to grow in joy today.Romans 8:18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, and our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

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