Here in Peoria, we experienced some warm weather, then ice storms that shut down schools -- while elsewhere in the United States, people are still digging themselves out of inches and feet of snow. Hopefully, this Update finds you warm and safe in your home, wherever that is.
This week, Julia Magnuson went home to be with the Lord. She’d been plugging away for years with the complications of various physical ailments -- and she’d been struggling even more intensely for the past several months. But, ironically, once the doctors started using words like “terminal,” and life expectancies measured in “weeks,” she really found God’s peace. She was a great fighter, but once she realized that the fight was finally over, she was genuinely happy to be going home, to be able to finally rest from all of the fighting. She spent her last couple of weeks surrounded by family, and passed away in her own home, with her devoted dog, Milo, there at her side. When I asked her how she was doing with all of that, emotionally, she smiled a bit smile and said, “Christ is my Savior -- I know where I’m going!” She was completely as peace with the idea.
In our message this week, we talked a little bit about the kind of mental and spiritual engagement that God calls us to as Christians. Jesus said that you are to “love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) -- to actively, consciously love God with every fibre of who and what you are. He was quoting from a context in Deuteronomy 6, where Moses shared with the people that God Himself is undivided, and that we should be similarly undivided in our love for Him.
Moses said that if you’re sitting down, that’s a good time to engage with your faith. If you’re walking around, that’s a good time to engage with your faith. If you’re going to bed, that’s a good time to engage with your faith. If you’re getting up, that’s a good time to engage with your faith. If you’re leaving your home or coming back to it, or if you happen to see yourself in a mirror, or if you happen to make use of your hands at some point during the day, those would each constitute a good time to engage with your faith.
Basically, every part of your life should be engaged with how you’re living that life for God. It’s not that we should pull ourselves out of reality and think about holy things -- it’s that we should infuse every part of our lives here in “reality” with thinking about them in holy ways. Holiness -- worship -- isn’t about “other-ness,” but about “set-apart-ness.” Thus, if our worship feels alien to us, we’re probably doing the opposite of the Greatest Commandment, since what we’re supposed to be doing is making worship such a natural and intrinsic part of our new life in Christ that the world’s mindsets seem increasingly alien to us.
You and I need to live each day as if we’re taking Heaven with us into an alien world, and to live each moment as if this would be a great time to engage with our faith in the God who walks through each moment with us.