31 Oct 2010
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. 11:13).
According to the author of Hebrews believers are all in transition – we are passing through this life – on a journey to our eternal destiny.
The word “transition” is defined as “the act of passing from one state or place to the next.” A second definition says it means “change or passage from one state or stage to another.”
We could say that transition is about passing through – to or from – one dimension to another. However, the reality is, in passing through this life we are faced with multiple other transitions. So our life is full of transitions – of every type – gradual, abrupt, crisis-oriented, developmental, etc. And with every transition we face a new set of problems.
One of the key problems with our passing through this life is our desire for permanence. Usually, permanence means stability and security. It means we have a handle on things – it means we have a dimension of control over our environment – over our daily life events – over our realm of activity – over the expenditure of our time, effort, and energy.
This desire for permanence can manifest itself in attempting to control our circumstances and life situations. Consequently, our desire for permanence can lead us into the land of addictions. When we experience something or someone that makes us feel good – we take measures to make that relationship to the person, place, thing, or substance permanent.
This is why so many get married. Usually, the person one chooses to marry makes him feel loved, feel good about himself, or fulfilled in some way. Wanting to harness this bliss and believing it will continue forever the couple decides to make the relationship permanent.
How about when one discovers that sex makes him feel good. That particular person could become a sexual addict in his efforts to make the feel good moments permanent. Or, say we find a particular drug or substance makes us feel good or perform better. Thus, we can become addicted to a particular drug or substance in our pursuit of feeling good or performing better on a regular basis.
If a certain kind of scenario or situation brings a sense of serenity, fulfillment, or well-being, we will attempt to recreate or fabricate that scenario or situation. Thus we become trapped into believing there are things we can do or fabricate to facilitate a feel good experience.
Our responsibility as believers is to successfully pass through the times and seasons, places or situations, dimensions of life experience, and even moments of fulfillment, without becoming caught, stuck, or restrained from moving forward toward our ultimate goal – the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).
This is why forgiving others is such a key aspect of daily Christian living. Forgiving those that perpetrated a painful or traumatic situation or episode in our life, positions us to keep moving forward in our spiritual pilgrimage. Unresolved anger and bitterness entraps us in the time-frame of the event and ties us to the parties that caused the offense. Both of these dynamics keep us spiritually and emotionally stuck in a time and place that God ordained for us to pass through.
Transitions be as they may, our job as believers is to keep moving – keep advancing – passing through this life without being tripped up or trapped by a minefield of life situations or even inviting or thrilling circumstances. Although every stop along the way may enhance our overall spiritual development we dare not become too engulfed or enchanted by any feel good moments.
Unfortunately, our tendency as fallen needy creatures is to want to stop and set up camp at almost every feel good time-frame. Setting up our camp for our comfort and our need for control and convenience all too often becomes a trap that blinds us to our need to keep moving forward in the Lord. And too many times we end up struggling to extricate ourselves from the spiritual apathy that gradually engulfs us because we chose to set up camp.
Considering these thoughts what should the believer do? Peter gives the answer in his encouragement to fellow believers:
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, (I Pet. 2:11).
Peter says we need to see ourselves as aliens – foreigners in a place that is not our home. Thus, we should guard ourselves from entrapment by abstaining from all things that would try to take our souls into captivity. Especially, we should guard against the flesh’s attraction towards situations or circumstances guaranteeing our comfort, control, or convenience. It’s good to learn from every experience but not to camp at any experience – even tremendously blessed spiritual ones.
© Ivan Doxtator 2010