This Week’s Devotional

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Last month marked the end of my 3 year long roomateship with Stephen Okamoto, our youth director. We had a great time living together, but since he’s getting married soon we decided to go our separate ways. Now I could have decided to just move to another apartment in the La Verne area. After all, I’ve lived there for over a decade now, so why not? It’s familiar, it’s safe, and it doesn’t require a lot of change, and if there’s anything I hate, it’s change. But instead of doing that, I decided to move to Palm Springs because that’s where my girlfriend lives and I had gotten tired of the bi-monthly 2 hour drives to visit each other. As I spent the last couple months looking for apartments and preparing to leave the area (including eating at all my favorite places!) I noticed something strange: rather than second guessing my decision to move away from the area I’ve grown comfortable in and fixating on what I was leaving like I normally do, I was looking forward to moving the more I thought about it. I realized that instead of focusing on how I was leaving what was familiar and clinging to what I have,  I was thinking about how nice it’ll be that we’d only be a short 10 minute drive away from each other and focusing on other positives. Yes, there are certainly good things that I’ll be leaving behind, such as close proximity to family and friends and having a variety of Asian food nearby, but the pros vastly outweigh the cons for me.

Have you ever had to let a good thing end so that another good thing can begin? According to the Bible, this is at the core of our walks as believers. God made this world and everything in it, and declared that it was all good (Genesis 1:31), but we don’t need to turn to scripture to understand that we enjoy things in this life. Many things we take pleasure in, such as food, friends, money, work, entertainment, and love are gifts from God and were created for us to enjoy. But the problem is that along the way, we focus too much on the gifts and forget about the giver. Then when Jesus comes along and says that we need to take up our crosses and lose our lives (Matthew 16:24-25), or that heaven is worth giving up everything for (Matthew 13:44-46), or that we will suffer for the sake of the Kingdom (Mark 10:29-30) we begin to wonder if it’s really worth it. When God asks us to give up that dream or that job or that relationship because He has something better in mind, it’s easy to fixate on what’s being lost because that’s what we’ve known. We’ve accepted Jesus and love God, so what’s wrong with clinging onto our old way of life instead of risking it on an uncertain future?

The problem is that we are too easily satisfied with the pleasures of the world and don’t take the time to fully understand what God is offering. According to C.S. Lewis,

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea” (Mere Christianity).

When we do nothing but bask in the enjoyment of our earthly pleasures, we numb ourselves to being able to feel the anticipation of what’s to come. That’s not to say that everything we enjoy will be taken away, but we can be certain that since God is all-loving and good, whatever He promises and does for us is what is what is best for us. See, God is in the business of redeeming and transforming us and that process necessitates pieces of our old self dying. As Jesus says in John 12:24, unless the old dies, the new can never grow in its place. This process may be painful and difficult, but as long as we can continue to trust that God is working for our good, we can confidently let go of the things we hold dear and grab hold of the life He is offering. And the way to know and remember that He is good is to remember who He is and what He’s done. He is the God that brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt, the God that died and rose again to have a personal relationship with us, and the God that will ultimately make all things new and is making a place for us in the world to come. He has intervened in each of our lives countless times and brought us salvation and life, so all we need to do is to trust that He’ll continue to do what He’s been doing all along.

Whenever you find yourself enjoying something this week, remember to pause and thank God for it, and also to remember that what’s yet to come will be infinitely better than anything we can experience here.

Have a blessed week,

Matthew Tambara