Amy Luscher Smith • March 30, 2019
Am I confident enough in God to prefer heaven to earth? Wow. Now, that’s a life question. When I was in treatment for breast cancer, I asked myself this question. Once. Mostly, I tried to box this question up for another time, another place, and prayed that God would let me live to see my children grow up.
I was in bed, a place I had struggled to get into that night. I was half-dressed because I couldn’t make my arms and hands work well enough to get out of my clothes. My mouth was full of ulcer-like sores, and my throat felt like it was full of glass when I swallowed. My joints and bones ached from the inside out. I had no hair, no eyelashes, no eyebrows.
I felt every breath that I took.
And, I was afraid if I went to sleep, I would die in the night.
In 2 Corinthians 5, verse 4 (NIV), scripture tells us that there is a time that we will be burdened by the our physical, worldly, human body
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
That would be the best way for me to describe how I felt that night. Burdened by my physical body. Scripture also tells us that there is a time that we will give over this mortal body to the life we have lived on earth and turn it in, so to speak, for a new one in heaven. That night, I fervently prayed that it wasn’t my turn.
How does that make you feel? Excited? Comforted? Loved? Does it make you despair? Feel a loss that hasn’t yet occurred? Lonely?
I felt all these things as I considered my mortality for the first time on that night when my body seemed to be failing me. When I think about my reluctance to give up everything and follow Jesus into death, I remember that Jesus models this in his human form. His prayer in the garden before his death is one that echoes in my human heart.
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. Luke 22:39-43 (NIV)
When Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, he knew exactly what was going to happen. Like my prayers that night, Jesus, too, asked for a pardon. A little longer, Lord. A different path to take.
God hears these soul cries. He understands. In His infinite wisdom, he knows what the best next step is for each of us. But, oh, how hard is it to trust! When I feel I am lacking the trust I need, I remember that if the son of God had doubts, so, too, can I. But, if I accept that, I must be willing to take the next step, just as Jesus did.
Yet not my will, but yours be done. Your best next step, Lord, is the one I truly need, truly want. Once I accept that, just like Jesus, you give me strength for the transition. An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. Lord, help me to get there.
Can you leave this world behind?
What would you leave behind that weighs heavy on your heart?
What will it take for you to trust that God has your next best step planned?