By: Emily Cable
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
It was another blue sky morning in Montana. The summer air was calm and cool. My back was warmed by the sun as I sat and gazed up at the mountain range before me. The distant peaks had demanded my attention ever since I arrived a few days prior. I appreciated the mountain; its sheer size and otherly beauty placed awe in my heart, the allure of adventure a summit attempt promised, the sense of accomplishment I presumably would feel standing at the top!
All these were placed before me, yet were just out of reach. My schedule did not include a summit bid that day or even during my whole visit. I desired, but could not obtain.
As my gaze drifted from the snowcapped peak, somewhat disappointed, a glistening water droplet caught my eye. Not more than two feet in front of me was a delicate yellow wildflower covered in little dew droplets acting as perfect reflectors for the morning sun. I paused. How had this beauty escaped my notice?
Then my eyes were opened to my surroundings! Each blade of grass surrounding me was glistening, every flower pedal glowed. I was sitting in a meadow of “diamonds”! Again I asked myself, “How did you miss this?!”
The answer…I had fixed my eyes on what was distant without even taking a moment to notice what was close. How frequently I do the same thing in life!
If I lock my attention and focus on future events or things that I don’t possess, throwing all my effort toward them, I end up blowing past the simple pleasures that lay right before me. I can lie to myself thinking, “‘If I could just have a good friend…’ or ‘When I’m married…’ or ‘Once I get that job…’ or ‘I’ll shake off all responsibility and just travel the world…’ then I’ll be happy, free, and satisfied.”
I have a fixation on obtaining satisfaction. I want what I want.
I desire, but cannot obtain. Why? Because I am looking in the wrong place. C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, observes, “Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”1 While I’m preoccupied with gratifying my fleshly desires (friends, sports, chocolate, adventures, etc.) my Heavenly Father is holding out true freedom, grace, goodness, satisfaction, and love. Far too often I choose to go my way, sin, which leads to death, instead of the way of life.
What is right in front of me, with me? As a Christian it is Jesus! “Fear not, for I am with you”(Is.41:10) YES, Jesus is with me! “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20a) Jesus is in me! I need not look to any other, I need not long for anything greater.
My heart’s desire will not be satisfied outside of Jesus. “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.” (Ps. 107:9) “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:35)
Now, consider for a moment what Paul says in Colossians, “set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things.” (Col.3:2) Are we to simply long for heaven and wait until the day we arrive? You’ve heard the saying, “So heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good.” Well, I’m confident that the truth of the matter is just the opposite! If I am living in light of Heaven the true needs of this present world will become all the more real to me because my desire will be to see those around me saved and to glorify God with my life. I could be so heavenly minded that I am of greatest earthly good! To quote Lewis again, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”1 And truly what is best for this present world? To be free from slavery to sin and made spiritually alive in Christ!
So to turn my opening analogy in its head, by fixing my gaze on the future reality of heaven God reveals the true beauty that is right in front of me today. It is about focus rightly placed, a heart that is so in love with Jesus that it can’t help but overflow that love to others in deep sacrificial ways. Because that’s what Jesus did for me! “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20b) I have the greatest gift of Jesus and because of that I can recognize and appreciate all the good gifts my Heavenly Father gives me each and every day!
Oh Father, may I delight myself in You! Forgive me for the idols I have run to seeking satisfaction, I repent. Thank you for Your forgiveness, grace, and love. Thank you for the free salvation you have given me in Jesus Christ! Help me to gaze upon the beauty of Christ that I may serve you wholeheartedly in this life!
“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, Harper edition, 2001), pp. 134-135.