“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:16-18
Ubud, natural paradise that is high up in the mountains of Bali. Tourists throng to this place every year for serenity, beauty, peace, and a little spirituality. Some come to her rivers for wild waters experience. Others just sit quietly as they meditate in her terraces of green paddy fields. Some others soak in her soft cultural music, dances, and activities that surround them. Others are busy buying beautifully crafted handiworks and delicate paintings.
I too went to Ubud with my family this December holiday. On our way up there, we were caught in a traffic jam in the town area of Ubud. For a short 1 to 2 km, we took more than an hour to travel through the one lane traffic. The roads were congested with motorbikes, cars, bicycles, and people – all wanting to experience Ubud. In the jam, I was feeling frustrated, stressed, and a little impatient. I could not believe the amount of people and vehicles on this tiny road. Yet, in the midst of my frustration, I still pushed on cheerfully because I wanted to see Ubud. I was eager to experience all the culture and nature that she could offer.
This reminded me of our own journey to heaven. It is not always smooth. In fact, it is not smooth at all. It is completely filled with traffic jams of troubles, distractions, temptations, worries, and challenges. But the scripture in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 gives us encouragement on how to push on our arduous journey. Paul says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I wanted to see Ubud. Though I was uncomfortable, I cheerfully endured the momentary troubles of the heavy traffic I was in.
Heaven is more beautiful than Ubud. One hundred times more glorious than Ubud. A thousand times more cultural than Ubud. A million times more natural than Ubud. I want to be in that heaven. On our way up there, to this wonderful place, there will be momentary troubles and traffic jams that we will have to face while on this earth. Just as I fixed my eyes on the unseen – the beauty of Ubud, I too need to fix my eyes on the unseen eternal glory that is waiting for me. My momentary troubles will come and go, but that destination, my final destination, heaven, will always be there waiting for me.
As I was in Bangkok, last weekend, I was amazed by the sight of hundreds of electrical wires looping around poles, hanging in plain sight, and chaotically supplying power to the city.
Bangkok is a city that never sleeps. Millions of homes, televisions, computers, traffic lights, street lamps, shopping centers, giant malls, office towers, government buildings, and retail shops are powered by tons of heavy electrical wires hanging on sturdy concrete poles. Without this myriad of wires, the city would be in total darkness. Chaos would run wild. People are so dependent on electrical power.
These electrical wires reminded me of Jesus, the vine, the eternal source that supplies life, energy, strength, and convictions to us. Our lives are so dependent on Him. Through His Spirit, invisible to our human eyes just as electricity is, He supplies the needed life resources to us. These life essential resources zap back and forth through the Spirit’s wire to us. Without Him, the vine, the power running through these wires into our lives, we too will be in total darkness. Chaos would run through our lives.
“And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”” Romans 10:15
I was saved because somebody took the courage to invite me, a foreign student at the University, to church some thirty years ago.
At that time, I was such a people pleaser. I would commonly say, “Yes, I will come,” but never show up. I was just what you call a Nice Guy, who seldom said “No.” I didn’t mean what I said. I just said it because I liked to make others happy. It was, after all, impolite to say “No,” at least that was what I thought. I am sure you have met people like me.
It must have been so frustrating for my friend who kept inviting me, waited for me, and found no one at the meeting point. Worst of all, I wouldn’t even inform him that I would not be going. Each time I met him on the next day, I would ignorantly smile and happily chat away with him without even being aware of how I made him feel by constantly promising, never showing up, or informing him.
Truly, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. He kept persevering with me and never gave up. After a long year of invitations, I finally came. I still remember that day and how pleasantly surprised he was to see me, all dressed up, waiting quietly for him at the empty front entrance of the dormitory.
After that, it was history. God worked in my heart and I was baptized within one to two months of studying the bible thoroughly.
When I saw this video poem “If tomorrow starts without me” and heard it read, it deeply moved my heart. “I have to post it,” I said. “And yes, immediately.
“It reminded me of how precious life is and how precious the people in our lives are, especially our love ones. Our lives are short and we need to live it well. We need to love and love much. We need to make our family time full, full of joy and full of laughter. Conflicts there will be, but let us resolve them all and most importantly forgive them all. Nothing fulfils us more than family, not even the riches and power of this world.
It also reminded me of how grateful we should be to our God who is willing to take us in – to His home, His eternal dwelling place, His grand palace where He lives and where there is no tomorrow. Every day will last forever. Every day will be a day of good memories. Every day we will live… and live forever… with our God and with our loved ones.[vimeo 105113459 w=601&h=338]
The poem is sad. It is a reminder of what is important to our lives. But it is also a victory poem. A poem for a life well lived because we will be welcomed to our home in heaven.
My admonishment to the marrieds – husbands “each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Eph 5:33).” Learn to forgive and cherish the days you have with each other. For the days are fleeting and will be gone before you know it.
And my encouragement all the saints – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (Eph 5:8)” because there will be “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Rev 21:1-5).
To read the poem, click this link “If tomorrow starts without me…”
Video created by Camille Marotte
Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said:“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
“Jesus has many who love His Kingdom in Heaven, but few who bear His cross (Luke 14:27). He has many who desire comfort, but few who desire suffering. He finds many to share His feast, but few His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, but few are willing to suffer for His sake. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion. Many admire His miracles, but few follow Him in the humiliation of His cross. Many love Jesus as long as no hardship touches them. Many praise and bless Him, as long as they are receiving any comfort from Him.” -Thomas a Kempis (14th century Christian writer)
This cartoon* from a Rick Morgan article depicts this point well.
Questions for Personal Reflection: Are we similar to what Thomas a Kempis and Rick Morgan have illustrated? Do we long for Christ as long as it’s easy to follow His path? Easy Christianity just doesn’t work, though. Like the cartoon shows, if our cross is too short, we can’t get over the tough times in life. We will miss out on the celebration in heaven! Let us be willing to take up His cross, and through Christ we will see the victory.
*Take Up Your Cross by Rick Morgan