My friend Kathy, who has a Masters in Exegetical Theology, always challenges my thinking and living. She and her brother, John, have just finished teaching a 3 month class on "heaven" at John's church. I have not attended the classes, but have heard much of the formulation of her thoughts "in process."
Yesterday she and John got to co-preach together. And in her part, she talked about living a distinguished life. Though i could go into much detail about her message, I was so struck - what distinguished the men and women in Hebrews 11 was certainly their "faith" - but even moreso, it was specifically that part of "faith" that looked forward to a "heavenly, far better, country."
She shared that no one remembers (nor names their sons) Palti and Igal and Nahbi and Shammua...but people do remember (and name thie sons) Joshua and Caleb. Why? Because they, too, looked ahead...believing that God had a far better home for them.
If they had been thinking of the country they had left,
they would have had opportunity to return.
Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them." (Heb 11: 14-16)
Kathy asked, "Are you going to be like the ten (undistinguished and fearful) or like the 2?"
Do I want God to be "ashamed" to be called my God?
I want to be like the two...I want my "looking forward" to heaven to be more impacting on my choices today. So many Christians say that heaven "should" distinguish us and change our outlook on life...but I know it doesn't really distinguish my life (though I want it to more.)
As Kathy then shared, there was another girl, just 2 weeks ago, who distinguished herself. When the gunman walked into her classroom and threatened to kill all the young Amish girls, 13 year old Marian Fisher said, "Shoot me first." Her younger sister, Barbie, said, "Shoot me second." Marian was killed, Barbie was shot, but has lived to tell the story of her sister's bravery. (Incidently, that kind of bravery isn't mustered up in the moment...it comes from what is buried in the core - and obviously, Marian had buried in her core, that to die here, and perhaps save others from being hurt or shot, would be far better...heaven is her home, and she's now "arrived." Wow - can't wait to meet her.)
They got it - and as Kathy said, "Marian accomplished and understood more in her 13 years of faith, then most of us ever do in a lifetime."
Oh Lord, teach me more about heaven - that I may live in light of the "better country" and please you with my faith here on earth. May I be distinguished, uniquely, by You and by my ability to look ahead to the far better country that YOU are the architect and preparer of.