Africa Devotions, the Eternal versus the Long View

That sound funny, doesn’t it—aren’t “long-term” and “eternal” similar? No. When we say “long-term,” we generally mean the next few months, a five-year plan, a decade. We like to ask questions like this: “So what do see yourself doing in four years?”

But we only have two times assured to us. One is eternity. The other is now. We have no idea if tomorrow brings success or catastrophe. We have no control. When we truly recognize this, we realize we have to follow God step by step. We have to loosely hold any plans we make. When we hold our futures with clenched fists, we fall into one of two traps: worry or a false sense of control.

Neither of those is trust.

 

I don't know how clearly you can read this poster--which I found in the hallway at a girls' rehabilitation school in Kenya--but it sure helps me to realize that a lot of my "first world" problems aren't really problems at all.

I don’t know how clearly you can read this poster–which I found in the hallway at a girls’ rehabilitation school in Kenya–but it sure helps me to gain perspective on many of my “problems.”

Questions for thought/discussion:

  1. Katie’s plans for college fell apart, but what was far harder was when she and her boyfriend broke off their relationship. How do we trust God for things so close to our hearts? Read her journal on pages 227-230 and reflect.
  2. How does being Spirit-led fit into this?
  3. Jesus said this in Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Then read pages XX and XXI in the introduction to Katie’s book. How does Katie’s story shed light on this verse?
  4. What happens when we ask for “more than we can handle” in our everyday lives? (See page 135). Is this a prayer of release? What happens when we pray like this for our everyday, “ordinary” lives?

 

The Eternal View

This little one fell asleep in Molly's arms. When I think about how many children never know this sense of safety...

This little one fell asleep in Molly’s arms. When I think about how many children never know this sense of safety…

Katie has seen more people die than many Americans do in an entire lifetime. She knows that for every person she is able to help, there are hundreds more in similar conditions. All of this has given her an eternal perspective. She says this on page 192: “I may never see the end of horrendous situations on this earth, so instead of trying to fix the situations here and now, I will focus on helping these people come to heaven with me, so we may say together: ‘Death and sadness have been swallowed up in a victory.’ … Christ has overcome the mess that is in this world and I am humbled to get to witness His salvation on a daily basis.”

It is easy to focus on the physical needs of the people we see, but many have the same ultimate hope we have—and they often have a better grasp on it because they don’t have a whole lot to hold onto here on earth. They sing more about heaven than we do because they truly would be glad to trade this life for that! (Sometimes we’re not so sure!)

Remember that Christ saves for eternity. Providing physical necessities is GOOD—and we should do it—but it’s worth very little if it doesn’t open doors for the Gospel that reaches beyond death and gives LIFE that never ends.

 

Side note: Some of you may be feeling that your sense of “home” is being disrupted on this trip. In some ways, this is good. God wants to prepare our hearts for our true home, and part of this process is making us dissatisfied with belonging here on earth. He wants us to long for our home with Him, where all His beauty, righteousness, justice, and love are revealed in full glory.

 

Questions for thought/discussion:

  1. Spend some time thanking God for His eternal gifts—things that will last forever.
  2. Have you heard your Ugandan friends talk about heaven? Maybe in church? How was it different than the ways we talk about heaven?
  3. The Gospel doesn’t only provide us with an eternity spent with God, it also has the power to transform us NOW. Has any African told you their transformation story? How are YOU being transformed by the Gospel? (remember there is no “small” or “big” in God’s eyes)
  4. The long view also encompasses the ability to look past creature comforts and the years of this life to an eternal perspective. How can we live for eternity—not just on this trip but in our at-home lives as well?
  5. We long to “belong” with people. As Christ draws us closer to Himself, we will find our hearts drawn to others who are also nestling close to His heart. When all the members of Christ are joined completely in heaven, we will know belonging as we never knew it here on earth. Have you ever felt a hint of that kind of kinship with someone?