Temporary vs. Eternal
I subscribe to a lifestyle site called "Anchored Women". The site is run by Kayse Pratt. She is a Christian mother of 2 & my current favorite blogger. I subscribe to her "Anchored Life Kit" which is a monthly kit includes all my meal plans, scripture reading, life organizing resources in one God-filled space. I am in my 3rd month and absolutely love it!
The thing I didn't expect to love is her daily emails. I already get so much email that I figured it would just be one more thing to scan and delete. But I love her voice and the wisdom and truth she delivers. I found myself looking forward to checking my email to see if there was a new email from Kayse. It might be a devotional reading, or maybe a new recipe to add to my family's growing list of favorites, or an inspiring story to brighten my day. Monday morning's email was a reflection on the Sunday message from the pastor at her church.
From Kayse Pratt of https://anchored-women.com/
Yesterday at church, the pastor told a story that I couldn't stop thinking about all day. So, I thought I'd pass it along today.
The story goes like this:
There was a very wealthy woman who needed to travel a long distance in a short amount of time. However, she was terrified of flying, so she chose to drive as far as she could for two days until she arrived at her destination.
The evening of the first day, she found herself in the middle of nowhere.
Her only place to stay? A run-down Motel 6.
This wealthy woman was used to the finer things of life. So when she entered that dirty, out-of date room, she declared it absolutely unfit for her. Never mind that she would only be there one night - she set out to fix that room up to her standards.
She went online and ordered new linens and even a new bed. She purchased new furniture and rugs and decor. Money was no object, so she had it all delivered immediately, and she got to work cleaning and redecorating the place.
The sun rose as she finished, and she realized the time - it was time for her to get back on the road. She'd spent the entire night fixing a room she didn't even get to sleep in - a room she didn't even own! She intended to create a space where she could finally relax, but she never got the chance.
This woman focused all of her effort, time, and energy on something that was completely and undeniably temporary. How foolish! How ridiculous!
Our pastor, who rarely tells stories and always opens the Bible to preach the Gospel each week, finished the story and asked us the following question,
"What is YOUR Motel 6?"
In other words, what temporary thing have your efforts, your energy, and your time been focused on?
In what ways are you building your life as though the temporary is, in fact, eternal?
I knew my own answer immediately, and teared up right there in church. More on that later. Thankfully, our pastor went on to share the Good news.
We are not temporary beings. We have been made for eternity, and our time here on earth is temporal. We are promised an inheritance, a place prepared for us in Heaven, for all who trust in Jesus's name!
Yet we often live as though this. is. it. We become too focused on our current situation, on the here and now instead of the promise of eternity, and I am the worst of sinners when it comes to this.
I see the bank account and start stressing out about how we're going to pay the bills, so I work harder, keeping only the month ahead in view.
I see the weariness and exhaustion that's plaguing my husband and myself right now, and I try to solve our problems with better food, better routines, better sleep, better discipline. We just need a system, right?
I see the sin in my children, and I take their responsibility on as my own, letting the weight of their choices name my worthiness as a mom. I work to "fix" this too, but cannot seem to change their hearts.
I see the sin in myself, but feel so behind and overwhelmed managing everyone and everything else, that I have nothing left to deal with my own junk. I claim "survival mode", and self-medicate with Netflix, work, or Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk (knowing full well that these band-aids don't actually help me get anywhere).
If this life is it, if it's all we have to live for, there would be no good news.
But (thank you, Jesus!) it's not all we've got, because the Gospel is real.
Our big giant God, who created the entire universe and holds time in His hands, loves us. He created us, in His image, for an eternal life with Him. Through sin, we became separated from Him, destined to spend eternity apart from Him. But through Jesus, His only Son, we've been redeemed, brought back into relationship with our true Father. For eternity.
We belong to Him, and He made us for eternity. And this earth is not eternal.
This. Changes. Everything.
It means that, yes, we struggle here on earth, but our struggles here are temporary. It means that, yes, we are part of a sinful world that is broken and lonely and messy, but we are not alone. It means that, yes, this life is just plain hard, but we have a Father who walks through our pain + hardship alongside us, not only comforting us, but also providing for us and our needs, in light of the eternity that He created us for.
It means that our lives here on earth are truly temporary, while we mercifully have an undeserved eternity in heaven waiting for us.
This is what I know to be true, because this is what the Bible tells us.
So why does my life so often look like I'm desperately trying to spruce up a dingy Motel 6?
Today, I have no great answers, only questions I'm wrestling with in my own life. In what ways am I living as though this temporary life is all I have? How can I keep an eternal perspective in my day-to-day life, and share that with my kids, too?
And perhaps most crucially: Do I trust God to provide for me in this temporary life, the way I trust that He's prepared an eternal place for me?
I'm struggling through these questions on my own right now. I've been quiet in writing (except for these newsletters), and that's why. This weekend's sermon confirmed in my heart that God has been working something out in me for the last few weeks (months?) and it feels a little like it's breaking me along the way.
I will write more as I learn it, but for now, I wanted to simply share that story today, along with the good news I know to be true. I hope it gives you something to think about this week, too. I'd actually love to hear any of your thoughts.
I don't know how this resonates with you. . . but I immediately knew what temporary thing I had poured much into lately. I had become rather obsessed with a little game on my phone called Township. Yes, it is much like Farmville of days past. You build up a virtual town, while sustaining it by harvesting plants, making goods and trading and selling them to your virtual neighbors. I don't know for sure why I get sucked into sim games so completely. Maybe it is because I am a bit of a control freak and these games provide me my own little world that I get to be in complete control over and have everything just the way I want it. It would take a team of psychologists and psychiatrists to fix all that. But after reading Kayse's email, I realized I can make my current situation better. I could give up control to the One that knows what's best for me. Even my current situation is temporary. My level in Township is not winning me any points with God, or my husband, or even my daughter. Those are the things I want to focus on.
So I deleted, not just Township but, all the useless games on my phone that I was wasting literally hours a day. I suddenly had time to pick up around my house, do some laundry, make a dessert for tonight's Wonderful Wednesday Thanksgiving, and still some time to snuggle with Bonnie before she went to bed. I did all that and was still in bed by 10:30. I woke up this morning at 5:45, way before my alarm. Normally that would infuriate me. But I woke up refreshed and relaxed. The first thought that entered my mind was "You always say you never have time to read the Bible. Well this morning you are awake before anyone else in the house. No one will be awake for another 45 minutes. That's enough time for some reading."
I'm not gonna lie. At first I rolled over and tried to ignore that voice. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a champion of sleeping whenever I feel like sleeping. But I could NOT go back to sleep. This was NOT a mere thought in my head. This was the voice of God. I got up, restarted the dryer of not-quite-dry clothing, found a comfy spot on the sofa, downloaded the "She Reads Truth" bible app on my phone that Kayse is always talking about and started a bible reading plan on Thankfulness & Gratitude.
Bonnie woke up only 15 minutes later, but I had read the day's verses and devotion and truly felt thankful for my time with God this morning. I made us breakfast and we had a much more pleasant start to the day than most mornings.
I hope that our stories prompt you to listen to what God is telling you to focus on. When our focus is clear, everything is new and perfect.