Have you ever heard the phrase, “Good things vs. God things”?
I’ve wanted a lot of good things in my life. Truly good things. Things straight off of the “perfect Christian life” page. I’ve passed a lot of them on the freeway of life, but there’s one that sticks. It’s the daydream of getting away from it all – living somewhere more rural, somewhere I could have more than a few sad tomato plants, where my long skirts and slight hair coverings wouldn’t leave folks wondering if I was Amish, somewhere I wouldn’t have to fight traffic at 7pm or wonder about my safety and that of my kids.
It’s not a bad daydream, as daydreams go.
You know, most of the “perfect Christian” stuff isn’t bad. Most of it is valuable and good and worthy. It’s worth pursuing, if we’re allowed to do so.
But we take those good things and we make them into gods. We’re in flesh-tents, it’s not weird to want to “win” at mortal life. It’s not weird to compare ourselves to the “perfect Christian” – however imaginary that person is. It’s *not* weird. But it’s fleshly.
James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
The questions we should be asking ourselves are, “What am I here for?” “How can I serve?” “How can I bless the people around me – today?”
None of us has been promised a perfect life. None of us has been promised a tomorrow. And it’s not as if this world is all there is – not for any of us. Someday I’ll have a mansion… and maybe our Lord will put it on a windswept moor where I can stomp ’round the heather with my faithful dog rampaging somewhere in the distance…. or maybe He has something better. I’m not tied to a life that is merely mortal, and “as good as it gets” is not up to me.
If I were to die tonight…. the regrets I would have are the times I totally flubbed my Christian witness. The people I left thinking, “Hypocrite”. I would care about the work left undone in my children’s lives, and leaving my husband to mourn. I would be sad about those folks that I hadn’t yet witnessed to, and those I had somehow offended.* But that’s it. The last breath in this world is the last breath I take in hell. I’m looking forward to the rest of eternity.
So – today I’m here to remind you (and me) that our purpose is for today. To do the good work that is before us with the strength in our hands and the joy that is in our hearts. I’m here to remind you that pursuing “perfection” is fine if it’s God sending you on the errand because something lacks in your heart – and isn’t fine if it’s something that you’re doing so you can make *yourself* good enough.
I won’t regret a moment of kindness, I won’t regret the opportunities to refresh people’s minds about Scary Christian Ladies. (Okay, I like being a very confusing Scary Christian Lady).
So – while I’ll enjoy every bit of good that God brings into my life, I’m not going to cry too hard about not getting to stomp ’round those moors. I’ll get to them someday, and when I do, maybe I won’t be walking on a crippled foot.
* Don’t worry, I’m in my usual robust state of health. Have some kale?