“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”
Philippians 3:20 (NIV)
Whether it is my fast-approaching birthday or an increasing sense that Jesus could, indeed, be coming for his church any minute, my awareness that I am not a citizen of this world is growing stronger every day.
Jesus, himself, said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), but the Word advises us to be good resident aliens.
As I ponder my short time left on this earth—either due to advancing age or rapture—I wonder just how I might be a better ambassador of the Heavenly Kingdom, especially given the crazy state of the world these days. How can I better align myself with the mission of my King?
If you haven’t been approaching the question from quite this angle, maybe you’ve been asking yourself how you can best survive and thrive in this time of the pandemic and its aftermath, political and racial unrest, and financial uncertainty. If nothing else, the recent extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest and Texas’ unprecedented cold and snow last winter has us all more aware of our vulnerabilities and the need to be more resilient.
I don’t have all the answers, of course, but I do know THE ANSWER. As I strive to stay in contact with the King until his return, I’ve come up with a few things I plan to cultivate to be ready for action.
First of all, I will need a strong mind. Tough times call for faith and determination. As Christians, we have access to the Mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The best way to take advantage of this wisdom is t0 read and study the Bible.
I know that. You know that. But like flossing and drinking more water it seems impossible to do. There are apps that will read the Bible to you as you go about your business, plus a never-ending stream of teaching on YouTube and specialized channels. Choosing to tune into these readily available resources instead of other things is a first step I plan to take.
Knowing the Word is like buying gym equipment, though. If you have it on hand, but never use it, you will never get any stronger. For muscles to grow, they must be used under stress. For a strong mind, I must not only know what the Bible says but pull that knowledge out and use it when I run into hard situations just as Jesus did when facing temptation in the wilderness.
Lifting weights builds muscle, but resistance-training is another way to build the mind as well as the body. It’s not only important to weld the truth, but I must resist the lies that make me crazy. When I am offended or things don’t go my way, that can be difficult. I will encourage myself by remembering that “I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).
The second thing I need is a healthy, strong body. Through these eighteen months of COVID with its emphasis on social distancing and vaccines, there have been many voices reminding us it is the diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other pre-existing conditions that make the virus so deadly. Common sense says correcting the lifestyle habits that promote those conditions is imperative. Most agree that reducing sugar and bad fats, eating more plants and nutrient dense foods makes a big difference in those conditions. I don’t smoke or drink excessively, but if you do, it may be time to stop. I’ve given up alcohol and sugar all together for the month of July.
Another thing on my list of ways to get healthy is exercising to increase cardiovascular capacity, flexibility, and strength. I have too many things I want to accomplish in the next years to be saddled with bad health!
Finally, it is more important than ever to be financially stable and independent. Toward this goal, I plan to reduce expenses and possessions, expand current income sources, gather things not readily available in a crisis, and increase my giving. That last one seems counter-intuitive, I know! But remember, God says that if we give to him and to his house, if we help our brothers and sisters in crisis, he will supply all our needs. I’m counting on that promise!
Romans 12:2 (NLT) admonishes us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing, and perfect.”
Though working toward being mentally tough, healthy, and fiscally fit can sound more like this world’s strategy than God’s, it is all a matter of motivation and perspective. If I am preparing myself to take care of myself, then it is a foolish waste of time. But that is not my aim. I am preparing myself as a soldier for battle, awaiting the instructions of my Commander!
Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll share more of my journey with you including ways you can join me. If that sounds good, I’ll look forward to sharing this experience with you.
How do you prepare for battle?