Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. Hebrews 3, verse 1.
My mom died two years ago today. Two years ago this morning, my mom, Grace Terry, exited the temporal plane of this life and entered the eternal plane of heaven. For her and my dad, who preceded her by 17 years, time no longer has meaning. Days, years, aging, disease, seasons, changes: these mileposts by which we measure our lives here don’t mean anything anymore to either of them. Or to the millions of believers there with them. Today is every moment for those in heaven because every moment is spent with Jesus. I know it has been two years since Mom died but I’m thinking she doesn’t. For her, it’s “Amazing Grace” (and not just because that’s her name). You know the line: “when we’ve been there ten thousand years…we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.”
My parents were both believers and college graduates. I learned from them the intellectual exercise of how I walk my faith walk. I learned how skepticism, questioning, and even academic rigor can be tools with which you can learn around the edges about the richness of our Lord and Savior. As long as you don’t make those tools your idols, they can be helpful, even Godly, gifts. In concluding his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul said “Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good.” He was giving instructions to the church on how to deal with the physical and spiritual persecution they were undergoing. As you’ve read, part of those instructions was to use Godly skepticism in questioning matters of faith. God would never lead them wrong so they (and we) should use healthy questioning to determine God’s will in tough choices.
Yet, a better, deeper way to learn about Jesus is to move beyond that, to fix that intellect on Him. The author of Hebrews says that if the Hebrew believers (and us, and the Thesssalonians) would fix our thoughts on Jesus then it would be much easier to employ that healthy questioning when the times come for us to do so. When we don’t know what path to take, ask Jesus. When we are troubled by things happening our lives, think about Jesus. When we make mistakes, turn to Jesus. Celebrations, happiness, and good times? Focus on Jesus and thank Him, involve Him. And when temptation, or falling, or hurt come into our lives as they regularly do, then focusing on Jesus makes it much, much easier to then ask “Lord, what should I do now?” “Is this a good choice?” “What do You want me to do?”
God will answer in His own way in His own time, but answer He will. I’m betting it’ll be much sooner than later and usually in an overflow of some blessing.
Like my mom dying two years ago today. I have a confession to make: I haven’t cried over her. Really haven’t. I loved my mom, and I’m ashamed to say I spent a good part of the last year of her life busy and angry over choices she made that impacted me. When she was gone, I was still in the thick of having to deal with her estate that I simply put all my feelings in a box and stored them away. I’d deal with them later. Two years on, I still haven’t, and I know some day that box will be opened and there they’ll be, fresh for dealing. Her death snuck up on me. She went into the hospital healthy – but quietly dying – on a Wednesday night and was gone on Friday morning. That’s less than 36 hours, and I think, now, that it was actually a blessing. God gave us a gift in that, for a brief hour or two, she regained consciousness and grasped what was happening, and instantly made peace with it. All of us in the family got a chance to talk with her and say goodbye. But it happened much sooner than I ever thought it would. If I had known she would die so quickly, perhaps I might have let go of that anger and spent time more wisely.
Yet now I see we did use that time well. In the last years and months we all had here, we had good visits, and we talked for hours, and we forgave and shared faith. It wasn’t all rosy but it was all good because, through it all, in our own ways, we fixed our minds on Jesus and understood that He would somehow make everything alright. And He did.
For more reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21, Hebrews 2:11, Romans 8:28, 1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Corinthians 9:13.
Lord, thank You for this day, for the passage of death, the forgiveness You give, and for calling Your followers home.