by Joel Lawler
In Philippians 4, Paul writes: "Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!"
God is near!
"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (The Message)
So much of our energy, time and resources are wasted on things that really do not matter.
Walk through a cemetery. Is the person with the biggest monument less dead than the person with an unmarked grave?
How much do we focus on things that will not last?
I was driving down a back road. There was this beautiful piece of land for sale. It was nestled in the valley of several hills. It was lush with vegetation and had a stream running through it. It looked like the perfect place to build a cabin on. It would be such a wonderful and peaceful place to live.
I started dreaming about buying that piece of property. Honestly, I could not even begin to afford it. I did not allow this to deter me from dreaming about it. In my head I could see the house I would build. I could imagine coming home to it. I could feel the warmth of the house on a brisk winter night. I could imagine sitting on the porch in the summer evenings watching the sunset over the hills. The Fall colors would be brilliant there.
About a mile away, there was another piece of property. It had a huge, old mansion on it. It was brick and had pillars on the front. It also had large windows. There were two porches, one on both the first and second floor. Looking at it, I would guess that it was probably around 200 years old.
As I thought about my dream house and the existing house, I wondered if the person who built it achieved what he wanted. Was he successful? Did he live a good life? The house and land were still there long after he had gone. Was this the measure of his life?
It then hit me how odd it is to think that we can "own land." The land was there long before us and it will be there long after we are buried in it. It is a strange irony to think we can place boundaries on chunks of earth and claim ownership.
When Paul talked about not fretting or worrying, he was pointing to the fact that we need to focus on the eternal. Our hearts need to be set on the bigger picture that God is painting.
There is nothing wrong with buying land and building a dream house. Where I could go wrong with my dream is if it becomes an obsession and takes away from my relationship with God and others. There is also the danger of looking at what I have verses what others have. I cannot afford the property that I was dreaming about. It would be easy to slip into jealousy towards those who can afford such things. Bitterness could very easily take root in my heart.
God is the author of the story we are all a part of. He is writing us into it. We all have a role. Focusing on Him is what matters. The stress and worries of the day are temporary. God will complete what He started and his work is eternal.