Monday, July 6, 2015

Advice From a 5-Year-Old

"Just pretend like you're a slave and you'll die if you don't do it."

This was 5-year-old Evan's advice for his older brother the other day when Jacob was complaining about his chore.  I chuckled as I listened in on the conversation, because it could only lead me to believe that this was the mentality Evan was using as well.  It wasn't totally new to me, since at the dinner table, when I have served something that doesn't exactly appeal to him, he has informed me that he doesn't like it, "but I'm going to pretend I'm in jail and it's all I have to eat."  I usually encourage him to do just that, because even though he isn't in jail, it really is all he has to eat at the moment!

Obviously, I do not my wish for my children to think of their relationship with me as that of slave/master or jailer/inmate.  :) But I do think Evan is on to something; frame of mind is important! 

It's like running.  We are a running family.  While some of my family members train to compete, I run for exercise.  Sometimes, before a run, it's helpful for me to acknowledge "Ok, I will be in pain for the next thirty minutes" (or forty or fifty, or however long the run is).  I have to be mentally prepared for the discomfort of exercise because I believe in the benefit it provides for me.  Even the more serious runners in our family have to be mentally prepared for pain because they are looking towards a greater goal!  Something we say when the run gets hard is,

"We are out here--make it count!"

To think this way reinforces the fact that the pain will not be forever, and it encourages us to focus on the end goal, not the pain of the training itself.  It's the same when they actually run their races.  Being prepared mentally can help with achieving the goals of completion and hopefully a good finish. 

Our time on earth is temporary.  James says that we "are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes".  We aren't going to be here forever.  As I've heard it said recently, one out of every one person dies.  For those who have trusted Christ, we have a better place awaiting us.  We look forward to the life to come, and eagerly await the glorious return of our Savior.  It is natural and right for a person filled with the Holy Spirit to be disgusted by the sin and corruption of this world, as well as our own sin with which we must contend while we are here.  However, it is essential that we consistently remind ourselves that it is not forever.  That doesn't mean we just sit around and wait, and not deal with the issues at hand.  We should work for the coming Kingdom and take the gospel to our neighbors.  Keeping the end in sight, and more importantly, keeping the goal of becoming more like Christ within our minds helps us to press on.

 "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, 
but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. 
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,   
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.   

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, 
God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according 
to the example you have in us.  For many, of whom I have often told you 
and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  
 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, 
and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  

But our citizenship is in heaven, 
and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  
 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, 
by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 3:12-21 

Our frame of mind can make a difference.  A mind that is set on eternity will no longer view the things of this world as the end.  Material things will rightly become lackluster, and the glory of God will be of utmost importance!  We are here for just a little while in the scheme of eternity.  Make it count!