A Voice in the
Re: No place in these regions
"For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. But now no longer having a place in these regions...I shall come to you..." (~Rom15:22-24)
As I sit to begin writing this piece (on a Monday afternoon), I have just finished reading Romans, as part of my own personal read-thru of Scripture. It is interesting that this passage, in my reading, should have followed on the heels of this particular past week-end, and last week.
The things that came into my mind while reading are somewhat out-of-context to their original meaning in the passage, but the words "hindered" and "no longer having a place in these regions" are the things (even though out-of-context) that seem to characterize life on this earth, at this time.
Saturday it was finally warm enough again and wasn't raining, so I cranked up the motorcycle and went for a ride out of town, over to our neighboring college town where there is this Chinese Buffet. It is a place I frequent on a regular enough basis, that the people recognize me when I come through the door. Everybody is friendly/welcoming to me, except this one, who seems to be the floor manager. For quite a few times, now, he has been giving me the 'silent' treatment. He sets my place at the table, and if I ask for tea, he brings it (but I have to ask for it; he doesn't ask if I want something to drink like hosts usually do; like he does to others). He refuses to look me in the face, nor make the usual polite niceties that are expected in such a situation; if I asked for tea, I don't know for sure that he heard me, until I see the teapot sitting at my place. I have been wondering if it is because he is "Chinese" (and orientals are more 'reserved'); but this time I sorta watched his interactions with others, and he has no problem smiling and being courteous to other customers or the employees. His attitude towards me has been almost to the point where I was pondering within myself: Should I go up to him and ask if I have offended him on some past occasion...that he is behaving this way?
But then, Saturday was winding up the sort of week that last week was: including Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Last week, and even today (March 6), I hear the traffic out front of the store...in a mad rush...with occasional 'angry' horn blasts. There is also this neighborhood 'person' who seems to have nothing in life, other than to spend her time walking up and down the streets: up this side, down that side; walking the side streets. Where is she going? What is she doing? One never knows. Sometimes seems to be muttering and talking to herself. During the height of the 'spirit' of Fat-Ash-Lent, she was walking by as I was working on a customer's order at the table next to the front window. I usually try to ignore her, because she usually sneers at me...but at this particular moment I looked her way, and she was staring at me with this demonic/smirky look she often has towards me. So as I was thinking to myself (to her), "What's the problem?" she suddenly went into convulsions with her face, twisting her head around, making a specifically spastic demonic facial gesture towards me. (For some time I've been having the 'witness' that she's demon-possessed. There are even occasions where she might be walking 'away' from me down the sidewalk, and if I make a point to look her direction, at the very same moment, as if in response, she looks back at me over her shoulder to sneer. Someone 'else' obviously in control)
Yesterday I was at another place where, as a customer, I should have been 'served', but it was as if the service (from total strangers; never any prior dealings for me to have 'offended' them) was as an after-thought... like I wasn't really 'there' to them. I don't know... was I 'invisible' to them? And yet, their dealings with other people seemed 'normal'.
Please understand...I am not whining and complaining. Just making observations. I know some of you experience this same sort of thing, too. It's also possible I experience it more than some due to what the Lord has given me to do with this ministry. Just as Believers have the "witness" of the Holy Spirit (Rom8:16), it is becoming quite apparent that the world often also has a witness that the Believer is not of the same spirit as they are. And so, as a Believer in Jesus Christ I -recognize- the world for who/what it is, that it is the territory of satan and his demons; that my "citizenship is in Heaven" (Php3:20), and that I am a "sojourner" on this earth. (Ps119:19), a "foreigner and pilgrim" here (Heb11:13)
And as time progresses I feel like I 'belong' here less and less. Like in the opening passage, "no longer having a place in these regions". And as the 'spring' is winding up tighter and tighter around the globe with politics, religion, immorality, and everything else we see, and about to be suddenly released, "Sproing!!!" that sense of NOT-belonging increases more and more.
As Paul wrote those words, what was the context? A summary of his ministry in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. (vs18-21)
From time to time various ones of you e-mail, expressing the same feelings....of NOT belonging here. That's good! That means your heart is not tied up in this world.
What about the rest of you? Do you know the Lord? If you do; when Jesus comes to take us Home, will you also be trying to hang on to the world, looking back with longing at all the loved ones and things, tearfully crying out, "Noooooo!" as they slip out of your grasp ??? "Tearfully" -because- you wish you didn't have to leave it; or because you wish you could take it with you.
Never forget that -gold-, which is highly treasured here, is the material with which Heaven's streets are paved...it will be walked/trampled upon. (Rev21:21)
Also: "remember Lot's wife"! (Lk17:32)
Now, if your tears are in sorrow because of the lost ones left behind; remember also that God will "wipe away" those. (Is25:8, Rev7:17,21:4)
But 'what' are you doing about it now? No, we're not talking about "soul winning" and the number of 'scalps' on one's belt, or 'notches' on one's gun barrel; we've addressed that on other occasions. But are we being "witnesses of" Christ's work and the Gospel message? (Lk24:46-48)
Does the world even know we belong to the Lord? Of the early disciples it was noted that "they were with Jesus". (Ac4:13) When we get raptured up to the Lord, what will be on the minds of those left behind? Will they greatly 'miss' us, as though we had been so 'close' to them? Or will they talk amongst themselves something on the order of: Yeah, s/he always did have that 'wistful' quality, like their mind was always someplace else.... like: they didn't really 'belong' here...?
Kinda like the dog of a friend I had some years ago: when they went on a trip one time, I went to their house every day to feed the dog and cats, and took the dog for walks. Watched a little TV to keep the dog 'company' for awhile. Mind you: the dog 'liked' me...when I would come to the door to visit, ring the door bell, the dog would come barking to the door, but as soon as I would speak her name through the door, the barks would change into whines of gleeful expectation. But when 'master' wasn't home, the friendliness with the dog was not the same. Master wasn't home. I might have been a 'friend', eagerly greeted...but when master wasn't there, there was a wistfulness and a longing (searching) somewhere 'else'. I was a 'friend', but I was not 'master'.
Like the saints of old....
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were foreigners and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that THEY SEEK A HOMELAND." (Heb11:13-14)
As it becomes more and more the reality that we belong here less and less, is it time for us soon to "come to" Jesus Christ at His call?
Are you ready? Are you being faithful?
"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has fashioned us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the earnest of the Spirit. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, preferring rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we strive, whether at home or away, to be...
WELL PLEASING TO HIM." (2Co5:4-9)