Medical tests, screenings, and procedures.
Gotta hate 'em…
Gotta…well…gotta hate 'em.
There are times when I feel like my body is a car – a little dinged up, scratched here and there, creaking and squeaking, running on empty, with fading paint and a seriously sagging bumper, and (quite often) in desperate need of some work on the chassis.
Hence, the need for periodic tests, screenings, and procedures.
And some medical stuff requires prep work ahead of time.
Like drinking foul-tasting concoctions that make you glow in the dark, or injecting radioactive stuff, or consuming inordinate amounts of water, or fasting (are you ever hungrier??), or having various body parts poked, prodded, or probed.
And, without a doubt, there will be some form of undressing involved.
OK, so I remember having a CAT scan several years ago, which required drinking some awful stuff that I was told would taste like cranberry juice. (Why do they always say that? NOTHING you have to drink EVER tastes like anything palatable. It's like saying they've flavored motor oil with a little bit of vanilla – "It'll taste like an ice cream sundae…")
Then, after placing me in the CAT scan "donut" thing, I had to have an injection of contrast dye. A very kind nurse hooked me up to an automatic injection system, and warned me that I might feel "a little bit warm" as the dye entered my circulation.
I felt the
Without warning…well, you know what happened.
My boys love this story. They still tell the tale of Mom "baptizing" a machine worth several hundred thousand dollars, which was – in their terms – epic.
So, last week I had a fun little romp in Medical Land.
I did not have my best time.
Fortunately, all things turned out well…but it got me thinking.
(After all, what else are you going to do while waiting to be p, p or p??)
Sometimes the prep work is harder than the procedure.
It takes time, it's tiring, it can make you uncomfortable, sometimes it hurts, and mostly, you just can't wait for it all to be over.
I think it's a lot like life.
We know there's something else coming – an afterlife, an eternal destiny.
And so, in many ways, this life is but a prelude, an intro, a preface.
This life is but prep work for the real thing.
And it can take time, it's tiring, it can make us uncomfortable, sometimes it hurts…and some days, you just can't wait for it all to be over.
But, just exactly what is God trying to accomplish during our journeys through this earthly life?
For if God does not waste anything (He doesn't), and if He has a purpose in everything (He does), then He is definitely up to something.
Here's what I think:
1) He's allowing us to participate in the sufferings of Christ
At first glance, I'm sorta like, that's OK…I'm good.
But I'm convinced that there's a deeper purpose to our suffering, especially when we are persecuted for the Lord's sake. Therefore, we should count it as a privilege to suffer for the name of Jesus. For in some way that we'll never fully understand now, I believe that this suffering prepares us for future joy, and future glory.
From Charles Ellicott's commentary:
"Such a recognition of the meaning of suffering, such a rejoicing in suffering now, is a sure means to rejoicing in glory also hereafter."
"…be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world." (1 Peter 4:13, NLT)
2) He's making us look like His Son
Again, don't you sometimes wish God was OK with us *sorta* looking like Jesus? That *pretty good reflections* were good enough?
Because the alternative is God working on us, reshaping us, pruning off the dead stuff, and polishing the rough edges.
But God, though He does not condemn us for our sin if we believe in His Son, also does not leave us in a state of "good enough." He desires to continue His work of transformation and renewal, always working toward the perfection of His righteousness in us.
We won't see the completion of His work on this side of heaven, for sin will always tarnish, but the refining process will change us for the better, and better, and finally, for the best.
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV)
3) He's providing time for us to reach others
This world has a ticking clock…
And in my opinion, it's rapidly approaching midnight.
We are told in God's Word that the world will end one day. And though we do not know the exact time, we can recognize the beginnings…
Jesus said: "All these are but the beginning of the birth pains."
(Matthew 24:8, ESV)
I believe that we are seeing the labor pains of the beginning of the end.
And so, time is short, and people are still lost – but God is giving His people time to reach them for His sake.
We have the knowledge of the Truth that will save people – the truth that will help them, in this life and the next. And it is incumbent that we do our very best, with the Lord's help, to spread His tidings of good news and great joy.
"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
(2 Peter 3:9, NASB)
4) He's giving us opportunities to earn rewards
Does it seem counterintuitive to you that we work for rewards?
The Bible is clear that we cannot earn our way to Heaven. We can never do enough, or be enough, or strive enough, or perform enough to leap across the great divide that sin brings between God and us.
We are admonished against a works-based salvation.
I get that.
But what's so wonderful to me is that God does indeed promise rewards.
And I personally think it's OK to go after them!
This life offers unlimited opportunities to *store up our treasures* in Heaven. There is absolutely nothing wrong in looking forward to receiving the Crown of Life.
And there is something wonder-full in thinking about the reward of our Master saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven."
(Matthew 5:12, KJV)
5) He's weaning us from this temporal life
It's hard to let go of this life.
After all, it's all we've ever known.
I don't know about you, but the enemy really taunts me with the fear of death.
I know where I'm going – but the father of lies is a master at insidiously wiggling anxiety into my thoughts and emotions.
Death – the Big Unknown.
And it is scary – Jesus Himself had quite a battle facing it in His own life. (Remember sweating like drops of blood?)
And yet, God would have us do exactly that – face death.
Face it with confident hope and blessed assurance. Face it bravely with a conqueror's heart. Face it with hallowed anticipation. Face it with the One who died to save us, and rose again to purchase the guarantee that we will never truly die.
Weaning us from this life requires surrender. It requires a relinquishment of our need to control. It requires that we let go. For if we cling to this life, we will lose it.
But if we give it up, for the sake of the One who sacrificed everything for us, we'll find it…
…and keep it forever.
"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…"
(Philippians 1:23, NIV)
6) He's placing a yearning and longing in our hearts
I think C. S. Lewis said it perfectly:
"If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." (Mere Christianity)
This life is full of hardship.
This life is not for sissies.
And those of us who know there is something better on the other side, will often find ourselves longing for release.
Haven't you all had those moments when it seemed like life stood still? When it seemed that every perfect emotion was captured? When you found yourself captivated by a sense of timeless purity? Moments when peace was tangible, and you felt transcendent?
Haven't you found those moments to be excruciatingly fleeting?
And haven't you wished that you could hold on to them forever?
We can't – not yet – and that is why we yearn.
In his book, The Journey of Desire, John Eldredge sums it up this way:
"Should the king in exile pretend he is happy there?
Should he not seek his own country?
His miseries are his ally; they urge him on. Let them grow, if need be. But do not forsake the secret of life; do not despise those kingly desires."
God created us with a deep longing for Himself.
He has given us a restless state of heart that can never be completely satisfied with earthly things or people.
And we spend our earthly journeys living in the exquisite tension of *in-between.*
We're supposed to feel that way…for we are but pilgrims, on our way home.
"…He has planted eternity in the human heart…" (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NLT)
7) He's preparing us for eternal service
The Bible isn't clear on the details of what we'll be doing in eternity.
I used to worry that I'd be bored.
I mean, really, how much harp-playing is enough?!
But, how silly to think this way.
God is so creative, so multi-faceted, so omniscient, so wise, so unfathomable – how could we possibly think that He could ever be boring??
And why would He ever subject us to infinite boredom?
I believe that we will worship Him in every way possible – unhindered, finally, by the shackles of sin.
Might He also have work for us to do?
Fulfilling, joyful, easy, productive, satisfying, worship-full work?
I wonder sometimes…
Will He continue our spiritual gifts from this life?
Will the singers sing, and the musicians play, and the writers write, and the painters paint, and the teachers teach…and on and on and on?!
Whatever He's got up His sleeve, we can count on one thing – it'll be even better than what we can think or imagine.
And it will all be for and to the glory of God!!
"…and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve and worship Him [with great awe and joy and loving devotion]…" (Revelation 22:3, AMP)
So yeah, this life is prep work.
It takes time, it's tiring, it can make us uncomfortable, sometimes it hurts, and mostly, we just can't wait for it all to be over.
But, though it's not always pleasant, this earthly *prep work* is accomplishing good things, better things, best things – forever things.
And so, we'll persevere…
"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
(Psalm 90:12, NIV)
"'If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.'" (Matthew 10:39, NLT)
"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT)
"For to me, to live is Christ [He is my source of joy, my reason to live] and to die is gain [for I will be with Him in eternity]." (Philippians 1:20, AMP)
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV)
"If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come." (Job 14:14, NIV)
"I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13, NLT)
"'Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.'"
(John 6:47, ESV)
"…Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died." (1 Corinthians 15:20, NLT)
"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart faints within me!" (Job 19:25-27, NASB)
How's your *prep work* going?!
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