In one of the conversations my husband had with a church board, they indicated that, should he be hired, they assumed he would be planning to stay for at least five years. When he shared this with me later, my first thought was, Duh. Wherever God leads us, we intend to get to know the people, love them to the best of our ability, and work together with them to reach that community. It’s impossible to do any of that without a significant investment of time. There would be little lasting value in abandoning people just after we’d been around barely long enough to build meaningful relationships. As if he would accept any kind of pastoral position if he didn’t plan to stick around for a few years.
But later, as the implications of this commitment sank in, the idea sort of made me panic. This position is in a place I never intended to live, requiring a lifestyle I never intended to have. My boys would grow up as city kids, for pity’s sake! It isn’t that I wouldn’t be excited to work with my husband in that ministry. It’s a great opportunity to partner with God in building His kingdom—and we would be working with some pretty fantastic people. It just also means 5, 10, or maybe 20 years that we are not getting started on any of the things we’ve dreamed about doing. We could live our whole lives and never see any of our grand plans materialize. What about further education, church planting, overseas missions, or running that amazing retreat center? Time is ticking.
Go ahead, say it. I know you’re thinking it. If it’s really about the Kingdom, what does it matter if we ever do any of those things? If we are following God’s leading and this is where He puts us, then it is the best thing anyway, no matter how long He has us there. Dreams are just dreams. Those things may not have ever been part of God’s plan for our lives. We are in a war for the souls of mankind. That battle should be our priority, not personal fulfillment.
You would be right. But I think there’s another fundamentally flawed perspective at work here. What must I think of heaven? I am acting as if this lifetime is my only chance to do things for God and enjoy what He has made. It’s been said before, but the heavenly creation is designed by the same Creator as this one is, only it isn’t marred by sin.
If He has important things for us to do here, you can bet occupations there are at least as fulfilling. If traveling, exploring, and having adventures is exciting here, what thrills there must be in store for us in heaven. If the beauty, intricacy, and diversity of God’s creation inspires such awe in its fallen state, the splendor of heaven must be beyond the scope of my imagination. If relationships in this life (both with God and with other people) are meaningful and satisfying, they can only be a small taste of the depth and pleasure involved in eternal relationships that are unhindered by sin.
I think God is pleased when we enjoy what He has made for us in this life—but I think it must be a bit like a father in a war-torn country watching his children play in the rubble. He is glad for them to have a bit of joy and laughter in the midst of the pain and tragedy, but he also longs for the day when he can give them something more.
So, I’m ready and eager to commit to a new assignment. I’m excited to partner with God and see what He does through us. To be used by God to lead others to eternal life is really my greatest dream anyway. And we’re still fairly young—He may yet bring some of our other dreams to pass. 🙂 But even if He doesn’t, this life is such a little blip. Why would I mourn the loss of a cup Shari’s house coffee this morning if I’m gonna get a grande coconut mocha with whip this afternoon?