by Rayola Kelley
We are now coming to the end of this particular odyssey. Discovering one’s life in Christ is an incredible journey. There are always those places that have been marked by inspirational memories, times of growth, and overwhelming challenges. Admittedly, I have enjoyed remembering and sharing some of my personal experiences with you for almost the past two years. As you may surmise, that in spite of the ups and downs of mountains and canyons, the leanness of the valleys, the troubling waters of the world, the ever-changing terrain of challenges presented by spiritual detours and road construction, I would not change any of it. It is obvious that God has begun a good work in me and He will ultimately complete it (Philippians 1:6). Clearly, the humble saint’s assurance is that their life is God’s business and all of the successful work in his or her life will be His doing. In the end, He alone will receive the glory for the holy, useful vessels each of us have become (2 Timothy 2:20-21).
This brings me to the final leg of the journey: the destination. According to Scripture, in the near future, the clouds in the sky are going to part and believers will be brought forth in new glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). It will be the final move for every believer.
This final move was brought to my attention lately. As most of you are now aware, we have relocated our residence. Even though we loved where we lived, we had to recognize our limitations in maintaining the “park” we were responsible for. After all, our fleshly tabernacles are being plagued by the challenges that come with getting older. We may be still young in spirit and zealous towards life, but our body tells us that the strength of our youth has certainly been diminishing with time.
When I think of relocating, I naturally meditate about the destination. As believers we are sojourners in this present world (1 Peter 2:11). Since we do not belong to the age in which we live, we are simply passing through to reach our real destination. I am aware that each year brings me closer to the time when I will realize the fullness of my heavenly destination. Each earthly move also reminds me that I am getting closer to reaching my final home. Admittedly, I am excited about the end of my odyssey on earth and look forward to starting a whole new journey that will be marked by eternity and the glory of God.
This excitement is being more so brought to the forefront. As I witness prophecy coming true on the news, I realize that we are indeed close to that glorious event, the blessed return of our Lord. But, how many of us are ready for the final move? Present events are screaming at us, but how many of us still cling to the false hopes and promises of the doomed world we live in? How many of us are trying to hide our heads in the sand and hope for the best, while a tsunami is rushing towards us?
The idea of spiritually relocating reminded me that there is a preparation that must take place. Jeannette, Carrie and I sensed last fall that God was preparing us to move. We could not see any possibilities on the horizon because housing in this area is very limited. Since we felt the Lord’s leading for us to move on, we began to knock on different doors by faith. The only door that opened to us was that of buying a house. We were all quite surprised about the prospect of purchasing a home. We could not see how we would be considered for a loan, and we admittedly did not want to get tied down to a mortgage. However, God is in control of the doors that opened and closed before us, and we had to recognize and accept His provision and the route that He was leading us.
The truth of the matter is God’s ways often prove contrary to our way of thinking. Most people are not prepared because they already have their idea of how it is going to come about. They are usually looking one way, while God is approaching it from another direction. Therefore, they fail to see what He is doing, preventing Him from guiding them in the right direction. Granted, there are those who talk much about Jesus coming, but each one has their own idea of what they will see and what they will miss. Such confidence will most likely prove to be amiss because these individuals have put faith in events or pet doctrines and not in the person of Jesus. We need to remind ourselves that the blessed hope will not be determined by what prophetical events might personally touch our lives; rather Jesus’ blessed coming is the actual event that we need to be watching and preparing for.
It is natural for most people to think that if they take steps of faith to be faithful in what God has put on their hearts, everything will fall into place. The truth is that when genuine faith has been applied to a matter it is often met with the fiery testing of adversity. I have learned in the past that the testing of my faith has shown me the motive behind my actions, my attitude towards God, and my inner character. It is important to point out that what will precede Jesus’ blessed coming will be a time of great trouble (Matthew 24, Mark 13; Luke 21). He even asked if He would find true faith when He came back (Luke 18:8).
The process that we encountered to secure the house we now live in was what we call a nightmare. We felt like ping pong balls being bounced back and forth by excuses, false promises, and mass confusion. Every time we felt that we had taken some steps forward, we were knocked backwards by red tape that continually repeated itself like a broken record.
We are told in Daniel that the antichrist will try to wear out the patience of the saints. This implies that there will be a season before His coming that will be plagued by what seems to be the bad guy winning the battles, righteousness will appear as if it is on the verge of becoming extinct in a world gone mad, and the blessed hope of Jesus coming back will be touted as nothing more than a fable (Isaiah 5:20; Daniel 7:21, 25; 8:23-25; 2 Peter 3:3). It is for this reason that Jesus instructs people to possess their souls in patience, and James reminds us of the patience of Job that can only be secured through faith (Luke 21:19; James 5:11). Scripturally, we are also told that many saints will be offered up for the sake of Christ on the different altars of the world, but the war will be won by our Victor who will come back as King of kings and ultimate Judge. Until then, we must possess our souls, by guarding our hearts, examining our motives, keeping the faith, staying the course, and being faithful to occupy as we prepare ourselves to stand in the midst of great darkness.
Without saying the obvious, relocating is a trying process when it comes to the world. It is for this reason I hate moving. However, when Jesus comes for us, the change and transformation will take place in the twinkling of an eye as the last trump sounds (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). The great aspect of this last move for the saint is that he or she will not have to worry about taking anything of this present world with him or her.
This brings me to another unpleasant aspect of moving and that has to do with moving all the worldly stuff. You find out how much stuff you have, and you pray the friends who help you with such a task will be supplied by a great measure of grace from above to weather the ordeal. Relocating material stuff certainly has the ability to test patience and devotion. Although during our recent relocation some things became a bit frayed, such as nerves and temperaments, I am happy to announce that everyone survived it.
Every time we move I come to the same conclusion—we just have too much stuff. When you combine the stuff of a ministry with the personal belongings of an artist/author, author/massage therapist, and singer/teacher, the stuff that must be relocated can be overwhelming. Although attempts are made to get rid of unnecessary stuff, it seems like stuff has an incredible ability of multiplying when you go to pack it in boxes. You would like to leave all the stuff behind, but you realistically know you could not function without some of it. Hence enters the quandary, what do you need to function, what will you need to continue to function, and what will prove valuable in the future.
The truth is you cannot go forward unless you are ready to move or advance ahead. You cannot effectively move forward unless you first deal with your stuff. Hebrews 12:1 tells us we must lay aside every sin that besets us in our journey. We must remember that the way to heaven is narrow and hard. Like Christian in the book, Pilgrim’s Progress, we must allow the baggage of our past sins and the weight of our present burdens to roll off of our back so that we can continue our journey to our final destination.
Part of facing the present in an effective way entails learning the many lessons of life that confront us along the way. We all start out with foolishness in our heart. It must be rooted out with wisdom and discarded by experience. It is for this reason wisdom and experience can prove to be great friends during preparation to move.
In the past I relied on my strength to endure, but time has taught me that life will disperse my strength. Age teaches most of us that wisdom borne out of experience must now dictate how one is to advance forward. Wisdom recognizes limitations, while experience gives us valuable tools of how to get around obstacles without using our remaining strength. Due to many past experiences, we have learned a few shortcuts as far as moving from one place to the next.
The beauty about our final relocation as believers is that we get the great honor of leaving all of our worldly stuff behind. In the end, what will remain are the spiritual treasures that have certainly been stored up in the realms of heaven by our Lord and Master. These priceless gems from heaven will grace the lives of saints and will reflect the beauty, distinction, and glory of the world to come.
In our latest move, we were also reminded of what it means to take possession of something. The house sat empty for three years. It is obvious that even a house thrives when life abounds in it. You could tell that the house had suffered much neglect, but it also had such potential and promise. Weeds and moles had taken over the once beautifully landscaped yard, robbing it of its beauty.
As believers we must take possession of our inheritance of eternal life. We must not neglect the salvation that cost God His best and cost Christ His all. We must recognize our potential in Christ and keep our lives free from the weeds of worldly influences and dictates. In order to arrive at our final destination, we must take dominion over our bodies, subdue and mortify the soulish ways of the old man, and ensure the daily renewing of our spirit. We must also make sure that the wicks of the life of Christ in us are constantly being saturated with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and lit by the passion of fervent, loving devotion.
The Bible is clear about the ultimate destination of a believer. We are heaven bound because we are spiritually identified to an eternal inheritance, while being robed in righteousness, and prepared to reflect the unhindered glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The odyssey through this world is fast approaching its completion for many of us. The questions are simple: are you personally prepared to advance forward to your final destination? Are you laying aside that which would burden you down, claim your affections, and entangle you in a web of bondage and destruction? Are you presently prepared to meet your Lord on the other side of glory, or in the sky?
In closing remember what the Apostle Paul said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).