Only One Thing

Sometimes life — or death — gets our attention. Unexpected happenings and encounters challenge the status quo and reveal what we really believe, think, feel, want, and expect. Many of us have been touched by a death that felt premature, whether the person we lost was in utero, 17, 49, or 87. I find comfort in God’s perspective of our time on earth:

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16, NIV)

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)

Contrary to our feelings, no life is cut short. We each live exactly the number of days God intended for us. No one misses the best days of their life. We treasure certain milestones in this life because they are the only reality we know. But what awaits those who have a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ is immeasurably better than anything we have, do, or experience on earth. Consider this description of what lies ahead:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth” …I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  (Revelation 21:1-7, NIV)

When we are in Heaven, God will live with us, in visible form. We will be His people forever. He will be our God, our owner, our guardian, our blesser, our protector. We will see, hear, talk to, laugh with, and touch Him. He will gently wipe away our tears and no more will fall. We will never be separated from Him. We will have no reason to mourn, as we will not experience loss or pain. All we have known before will cease to exist. Something new, better and beyond our ability to imagine will become our reality. And nothing will threaten it…ever. Far more life — truly knowing Him and being with Him — will become the only thing we need.

In our limited lives on this earth, we can lose sight of far more life. We can instead focus on to do lists, accomplishments, appearances, and numbers. But it is not what we do in this life that is important. Only our relationship with God through Jesus is important. That is the key that gains us access to Heaven. That is the key to contentment throughout the unexpected and challenging situations we face on earth. That is the foundation of far more life.

The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15, NIV)

Think of the most affectionate name you have for your father or father-figure and the feelings it evokes. According to HELPS Word-Studies, the Greek “Abba” is used as a term of tender endearment by a beloved child. Abba is the man who makes you feel cherished, protected, valued, and safe. Children adore, trust, and enjoy their Abba. This verse describes a relationship where there is no judgement, only unconditional love. It describes two people who enjoy being together, who love one another deeply, who value each other and their time together. This is the relationship God desires with us.

We do not have a business connection with God. He is not our employer who is taking notes for our next performance review. His goal is not that we increase productivity, work overtime, or sacrifice our health. We do not move up the spiritual ladder by proving ourselves to Him.

We also do not improve our status with God by avoiding sin. We do not earn points by going to church or being baptized. We cannot identify Christians based solely on what they do or do not do.

The Bible records a time two sisters, Martha and Mary, were hosting Jesus and his followers. Imagine the work of having 12 or more guests who were unable to call ahead. Guests who had traveled to reach you and would be staying for an undetermined amount of time. They had real needs. Martha was focused on meeting those needs and making their guests comfortable. But her sister Mary chose to sit with the guests and listen to Jesus as he taught them about spiritual matters. When Martha complained about Mary’s inaction, Jesus’ response is surprising to many:

Few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42, NIV)

The only thing we truly need is a relationship with Jesus. The only thing we need to do is connect with Him so we can absorb His heart, words, and desires. All the rest will fall into place if we keep building a relationship with Him. Only one thing is needed for far more life: Jesus.

Sisters,
What unexpected life happening has challenged you?
What do you look forward to about Heaven?
How has God been Abba to you? What barriers do you face in considering Him as Abba?
Do you believe only one thing (Jesus) is needed? How do your thoughts and actions back up your belief?
Thank Jesus for giving you far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso




Numbered Days

I have heard many people express eagerness to say, “Good riddance!” to 2020. Although there are no guarantees that changing the calendar will improve our lives, they hope the coming year brings fewer challenges. Hope is a powerful force in our lives, but it is not like a free-floating balloon. It must be tethered to an object or person; we hope in something or someone. The days on the calendar are powerless to bring good or prevent bad. Far more life hopes in the character of God and His promises recorded in the Bible every day.

Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. (Psalm 90:12, TLB)

Most years, including 2021, offer us 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, or 13,536,000 seconds. Each of those moments is like a gift, waiting to be unwrapped. Some of those gifts will be wonderful, exciting, or lovely. Others will be unpleasant, difficult, or sad. As we open each gift, we have to decide what value it offers and what to do with it. We can: keep it (in our memories or the forefront of our mind); give it to someone else (by sharing the experience in the moment or later telling them about it); or throw it in the garbage (move on or choose to not think about it). We are wise to look below the surface before deciding what to do with each gift. Sometimes the best gifts appear undesirable at first glance. I have experienced this with difficult conversations that, when resolved, led to personal growth and deeper relationships. I have also experienced this with potential friendships that I did not pursue and later regretted. Far more life unwraps and examines each gift, each day, in order to spend it as we should.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV)

Every sunrise serves as a reminder of God’s love and faithfulness. Whether we judge a day to be good or bad, His compassion goes with His children into every situation we face. Far more life greets each new day expectantly, looking for God’s work in and around us. We are never alone (Deuteronomy 31:8). We are never forgotten (Isaiah 49:15-16). He will not allow us to be spiritually destroyed (John 10:10, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9). He will give us all we need for that day. (Philippians 4:19). If you doubt these promises, consider starting a journal to record how you experience God’s compassion and faithfulness each day. Some days you will record one or more good things that happened. Other days You will see His provision through things that could have been worse. We are tempted to focus on our circumstances, but also look for His spiritual provision — times where you experience or share love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and forgiveness. Living in the fruit of His Spirit always makes it a good day!

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. (Zechariah 4:10, ESV)

The tallest trees on earth, Sequoia sempervirens aka California redwoods, begin as a tiny seed. The largest animals on earth, blue whales, grow from the union of a single egg and tiny sperm. We tend to marvel on the full-grown majesty but forget to be amazed at the beginnings. Similarly, the day a venture begins — and each day of growth along the way — is also a cause for rejoicing. There will come a time when the progress will become obvious and even those who started with a critical attitude will rejoice; as the verse above states, those who were discouraged at the slow work of laying the temple foundation rejoiced when a plumb line was required to ensure the rising walls were built straight. We are wise to value the days of small things, too. There is reason to rejoice in the beginning of a friendship, the first step away from addictive behavior, or a righteous choice on a small matter. Far more life recognizes that each day offers opportunities for rejoicing over small things. Because much of life is small things.

A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. (Job 14:5, NIV)

…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16, NIV)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

Our days on earth are numbered and God has plans for each one! You will find far more life as you search for and embrace His purpose for you each day.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)

When our time on earth is over, those who have accepted Christ will be taken Home. What a wonderful day it will be when we are united with our Creator and Savior! Each day we spend on earth is a day with Him in Spirit that brings us closer to the day we will be with Him physically. Since each day offers far more life, we can count them all as good days!

Sisters,
In what or who do you place your hope?
How do you decide which “gifts” from your day to keep, which to share, and which to throw out?
Do you regularly take stock of your daily blessings? If not, consider writing them down this year to have a record of God’s faithfulness.
What do you need to remember or do to make the most of each day God gives you on earth?
Thank God that far more life starts with numbered days on earth but continues for an infinite number of days in Heaven!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso