by Meredith Allen
Like a good boy scout, I like to be prepared. “Prepared for what?” you might ask. I would answer, “Prepared for your future.” How do we prepare for the future when we can’t know the future? As Christians, we can and do know the future, at least concerning the most important thing. Eternal life is the ultimate reward that God has prepared for his family. I know we all hear about and talk about eternity, but is it something we can prepare for and get excited about?
God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, allows many obstacles to come our way. Webster’s dictionary defines obstacle as “something that stands in the way.” In other words, it’s a roadblock in one’s path. These obstacles are essential in our life if we want to be prepared for an exciting future.
I’ve always said that the most important parts of any book are the first and last chapters. In life, the first chapter is birth, and the final chapter is death. Every single person’s life begins and ends this way. The chapters in the middle can be much more enjoyable if we prepare for the final chapter. You must be thinking at this point, what in the world is he talking about? I’ll now try to explain by getting personal.
Life has not always been a bed of roses for me - quite to the contrary. I’ve had my share of personal failures throughout my life. During many dark and hard times, I’ve prayed for the gift of faith to get me through these difficult times. God always rescued me but never how I expected Him to or when I expected Him to. As Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” I love to look at the stars at night and contemplate how much higher they are than the earth. The depth of space or the heavens is infinite, and I am so glad because my thoughts are so little and so simple. I love the fact that His thoughts are so infinitely different and better than mine.
All of us can prepare for difficult times or disappointments in our lives. I believe the most important thing we can do is to spend quiet time alone with God. Sure, studying His word and fellowshipping with other believers is important, but quietness and aloneness with God is the most important to me. These quiet moments allow us to pray to God and meditate on His word. Even more important to me is to praise and thank Him for taking our place on the cross so that we might be forgiven and live forever. I love Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Life today is on a very fast track, and we must step off the train and be still in order to contemplate and appreciate the blessings and glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without doing this, we will never grasp an eternal perspective on our own life.
I also love James 4:14, “Your life is a vapor that appeareth for a little while and then vanisheth away.” Our total life on earth, no matter how long, is but a blip (on the radar screen) of time. I believe it is imperative that we as humans come to grips with the very sure finality of life in this present world. Surely it takes faith, but God provides this faith to us as a gift if we will only ask. In James 4:2 God tells us that “we have not because we do not ask.”
Three years ago, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I had often wondered if I would be prepared when news like this would inevitably arrive. So, as I would later say, I was given a “pop test” that day, and yes, God’s mercy and grace had prepared me. This diagnosis turned out to be one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever received other than my salvation. I say this not because I’m currently well, but because it allowed me to completely desire His will and not mine.
God allowed Margaret and me to realize that we really were in a win-win situation. This acceptance brought me more genuine peace than I had ever experienced before. I say this not because I have great faith but because of God’s grace. He gave me the faith to desire His will over mine in ways that I had not experienced before.
Without the dark places in our lives, spiritual growth is very difficult to achieve. The darker the valley, the brighter the other side. We should not try to figure out the dark places (why, etc.) because we will get stuck in the valley. God is wonderfully mysterious and completely sovereign. Praise the Lord! The bigger the disappointments, the greater the blessings. Certain growth and insights can only come through experiencing dark places. These times and places give us great opportunities to draw very near to God.
Last year I was diagnosed with another and different cancer. Someone asked me how I was going to handle this, and I said, “Just another sweet time with Jesus.” It is such a blessing that God can draw us closer to Him by allowing the difficult times to come into our lives. His power always shows itself more effectively in our weaknesses.
As I began thinking about writing this blog a few days ago, I received yet another diagnosis of another type of cancer. Yes, I will have to have a third surgery in just three years, and I’m tremendously confident that God will see me through this again. Remember, we as Christians can’t lose. It’s another win-win.
As Christians, we already know how the story of our life will end. As God gives us faith to grasp this, we can harness the knowledge of eternal life with confidence, boldness, and yes, even excitement. The great joy that I have is inexpressible as I contemplate the future.
Please prepare for the future. For Christians, it is very, very bright. I want to close with two of my favorite Bible verses:
I Corinthians 2:9, “For it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love Him.”
II Corinthians 4:18, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”