Do you have a 5 year plan? A 10 year plan? Are you setting aside enough money to retire when you hit 65? Americans have life down to a science. School for thirteen years, college (perhaps a graduate degree), throw a solid internship in there somewhere, find your career, find a spouse, buy a house, maybe have some kids, start putting money away for retirement (but keep out enough out to play on the weekends), work hard, work hard, change jobs here and there, work hard, get the promotions, retire and enjoy your golden years waiting to die. We meet with financial advisers, we keep track of our 401Ks, we hope and pray that the stock market continues to grow, and we trust the system to make us happy.
Does that sound about right? Is that the overview of your life’s ambition? You might have a goal intertwined with your career in there, aiming to make a difference in the world through politics, ministry, development or humanitarian efforts, but in general, we need to make money to be comfortable and settle our future, right?
Last week we passed the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. The world stopped to remember the atrocities preformed there, the tragedy of the lives lost and to wonder anew at the depth of depravity that resides within the human race. The millions of Jews and others who were persecuted, abused and murdered throughout the reign of the Nazi regime did not see their life plans achieved. Their five and ten year plans went out the window the day Hitler rose to power. People fled, people hid, people died. For no reason other than their ethnicity.
Jesus gave this ominous promise:
“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
– Matt 24.6-13
If you follow Christ and make it to the end of the age, we will be hated by all nations. There will be no refuge. There will be no place to run or hide. The United States will no longer be our comfortable, safe place where we live for our own entertainment. We will have to make a decision about Jesus Christ: do we follow Him and suffer for it, or do we not? Jesus knows that most will not. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Our 401Ks, houses and cars will do us no good in those days. Our foundation of faith will be all we have to stand on.
“Now the Lord said to Abram,
‘Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you…'”
– Gen 12.1
When God called Abram, He gave him no “next steps” or road map. He simply said, “go”. When Jesus called the disciples, He said, “Follow me” (Matt 4). He did not say, “This is where we are going”, He simply called them to action. When Jesus left, He commanded us, “Go, make disciples of all the nations” (Matt 28.19). He gave a general overview, explaining to make disciples by baptizing and teaching people to obey everything Jesus commanded, but He did not give a road map, specific destinations or specific peoples. He just said “Go”.
Has Jesus called you? If He has, have you allowed Him sovereignty over your life plans? Would you be willing to change them all for the sake of eternity and the cross? Or do you need a step-by-step along with a life-long plan and safety net in case you stumble? Would you leave it all behind for Jesus?
There may come a day when our plans fail. There may come a day when we lose it all outside of our control. Let’s not cling to our plans and goals such that if that day comes it will ruin us, but let us prepare ourselves on the level that truly matters. Our faith. Let us not be of the ones whose faith grows cold, but let us be of the ones who persevere until the end. And let us live our lives in obedience, following Him now, giving Him final say over our lives and steps.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
– John 14.6
Jesus is the way. He does not show us the way. He is the way. If we want to make it to eternity, if we want to experience life in its fullness, we must be in Jesus. We must know Jesus, not just follow Him.