Monday, March 20, 2017

Vacation on Your Mind

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, 
brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 
not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, 
but giving a blessing instead;
 for you were called for the very purpose 
that you might inherit a blessing. 
I Peter 3:8,9

It's that time of year again...spring break is right around the corner.  Here in Michigan there are two kinds of people when it comes to spring break.  First there are those who have been planning since the first fall of snow for this vacation.  They've got their trip all mapped out. Whether flying or driving, nothing is going to stop them from getting on that beach.  And I mean, nothing.  Not long lines at the airport, not slow lanes around Atlanta, not even the 100th time "Are we there yet?" will be asked.  They have had their bags packed in their minds for months now, and all that is left is to throw in the latest Grishom novel and some sun screen.

The other group consists of those who can't stand traffic, lines and crowds. They wouldn't be caught dead at Disney over a holiday and travel mayhem is not worth the two week tan lines that boast a hot destination trip.  They plan on staying home, praying for a day over 50 degrees and finding "fun things to do right here in Michigan."  

They also can't stand the travelers.  And here's why:  because for the past few weeks, you can't get a good answer out of them.  You can't fluster them and you can't get their full attention.  You see, their mind is on that nearing vacation and not even an office meltdown will rattle them.  They have a future plan and it includes sand, sun and a lot of aloe for sunburn.  

In Peter's first letter to the church, he runs through a quick to-do list for the believer.  He tells us to be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted and humble.  All of these words imply that they are not easy to do and the believer is sacrificing some rights to make peace.  He goes on to say, when being insulted, give a blessing - don't return insults.  Again, be the bigger person and keep the peace.  

This is very difficult to do and there are times that we will get tired of taking the blows and not getting even.  I can remember chatting with my children about difficult kids at school.  Today we call them bullies, back then they were just mean.  I would tell the kids not to respond to insults, not to engage in verbal battles, but to say something kind and walk away. That throws a bully off his game and it keeps you from having to ask forgiveness for saying something mean yourself.  My children didn't like this counsel.  It was hard.  It was humbling. It was sacrificial.  But it served them well, teaching them that God will deal with bullies, but He wants you to remember who you are (a child of the King) and what you are called to (a life that brings glory to Him).

This is the same counsel I give in the counseling rooms at church.  Over and over I hear stories about marriages that are hard, parents who are unfair, work conditions that are trying, and I am constantly telling my sister in Christ to humbly serve the ones God has placed in their lives.  Sacrificially put up with bad behavior just as Jesus did, not reviling in return but continually entrusting themselves to the One who will justly make things right one day.  This is hard counsel and as believers, it can be tiring to constantly take the high road.

But Peter doesn't just tell us what to do - he tells us why - because we are inheriting a blessing.  We are children of the King.  He is molding and shaping us into the image of His Son as we share in His sufferings.  And our future is bright.  We have heaven in our sights!  This broken life is not all we have and we'd better make the best of it.  No, we have eternity with unhindered fellowship with the Lord, in a recreated and restored Earth which will be greater than our imaginations can possibly imagine.  That is our destination, that is our heavenly focus.  

So just like those destination Spring Breakers, nothing can keep us from the joy of our destiny.  Nothing can shake us, nothing can take our joy.  It was purchased for us and the tickets are non-refundable.  Just like the ones who are anxiously awaiting the moment that they can say, "Good-by, Michigan!" and head out the door to a warmer destination, as believers we have even greater motivation to endure this life for God's glory.  Our minds are set on the things above, not on the things here on Earth. 

No matter which spring break personality you are, as a believer in Jesus Christ, when we live with an eternal perspective it changes our ability to do the hard things and live at peace with all men, doesn't it?

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