David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

No “More” (2015-03-11 Daily)

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

-Isaiah 62:5 NIV®

 

Last Monday night, as Megan Lacefield, Marriage and Family Pastor at New River Fellowship, dismissed us to our Re|Engage small groups, she reminded us that a good marriage is a process, that our marriages would not be perfect until we get to heaven, where there are no marriages. The scripture Megan alluded to is in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22:

 

That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

-Matthew 22:23-30 NIV ®

 

Our good friend, Luke Ogle, leaned over and shared that he and his wife, Meagan, had been discussing this very subject. “What’s the point?” he asked. “The Bible is all about marriage—it’s one of the most powerful covenants given to man. If we spend our whole life on earth in this covenant marriage, why wouldn’t we have that in heaven?”

“Mary and I have been talking about that, too,” I replied. “But whatever God has in mind, it’ll be better than what we have now. It has to be.”

I have to admit, though, that the thought of not continuing my marriage in heaven bothers me a bit. I mean, Mary and I have an amazing relationship, and I know God is using our marriage as an inspiration to others who may be struggling with theirs. We communicate, we share, we serve each other, we pray for each other, we’re moving forward equally yoked, infinitely blessed. “I’m bummed we won’t be married in heaven,” she told me one day. I had to agree. After all, I plan to spend the majority of my life married to this strong woman of God, and by the time I head off to heaven, it will be practically the only life I’ve ever known.

Tuesday morning I woke up at 2:46, but instead of being angry this time, I opened myself up to God’s revelation. “Show me what you want to teach me, Lord,” I prayed.

“Humans always want more,” He told me. “And in marriage you receive more.” More intimacy, more joy, more fulfillment, more peace, more adventure. But what do we, as humans, want most of all out of life? Whether we realize it or not, we’re all pursuing a relationship with God. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” Jesus said during His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:33 NIV®). And Moses assured us in the Book of Deuteronomy that we “will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV®). Marriage is an earthly preparation for a heavenly relationship far greater than anything we will ever experience or imagine here on earth.

Our ultimate goal is intimacy with God. That is God’s will for us. That is the “more.” “You wouldn’t have a covenant marriage in heaven if you had two marriages,” my friend Luke told me later. And, indeed, Jesus is the bridegroom, the church His bride. “As a young man marries a young woman,” Isaiah wrote, “so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you” (Isaiah 62:5 NIV®).

The Apostle Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “… he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV)—if we’ve given our lives to God, we are already one spirit with Him. And as Jesus told Martha while her sister sat at His feet, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” To be one with God is not only the “better,” it is the fulfillment of the “more.”

There are no marriages in heaven because, when we get there, we will be one with God. That is not only the “more,” that is the “all.” “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,” Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:20b-23 NIV®). When we reach heaven, there is no “more”—just oneness. Just God. And that is enough.

 

Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes

3 O’Clock … AM (2015-03-04 Daily)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

-Joshua 1:9 NIV®

 

I have to admit: I’ve been pretty darn mean to God lately. Actually I’ve been a whiny little brat who’s mentally threatened to trash God publicly if He doesn’t come through with the prosperity He promises throughout the Bible. “You’re the One Who’s going to look like a fool, Lord,” I’ve told Him more than once. “So c’mon, I’m waiting.” Ouch ….

 

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that God has great big shoulders—He’ll take the crap we dish out like the Gentleman that He is, and after we’ve vented our frustration, anger and discontentment with the way things are, He’ll wrap His loving arms around us, hold us tight and whisper encouragement in our ear. Because that’s Who He is.

A couple years ago, while contemplating this adventure, I was squirming over the incipient loss of income and the very real potential for financial failure. One morning, as I sat down in my spot at the kitchen bar and began to eat my oatmeal, I found a Post-It Note stuck to the granite. “Casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7.” The note, placed there by my amazing wife, stuck. I looked up the verse and eventually memorized it as well as the one after it, whispering them under my breath as I took my daily stroll through the aircraft factory where I worked at the time:

 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

-1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV®

 

But lately I’ve all but forgotten those verses as the reality of the financial squeezing has stirred up wave after wave of frustration, discouragement and intense worry as we continue to walk down this path. Despite the very real fact that we’ve experienced miracle after obvious miracle over the past four years of this journey, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a state of turmoil as the world moves ahead financially while I fall behind. You see, dependence on the false security of money is an enemy stronghold anchored deeply in my mind, rooted there by generational fear, germinated under the heat lamp of necessity and urged onward with a decades-long striving to retire early to pursue this writing life. Not a day goes by without my thoughts turning toward money, and as the stock market zooms into record territory, my toes curl with frustration that yet again I’ve been foolish with my money, missing out in one of the longest and most aggressive bull market recoveries in U.S. history.

But because of my own history of financial missteps caused by greed and impatience, I’ve stayed on the sidelines watching the world “get ahead” while I pay my multi-thousand dollar tax bill to support inane social programs and wonder how much longer I can keep the house. Believe me, it doesn’t make for a very happy hubby or a very patient papa. As such, the very next verse following Peter’s words above has become very real: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV®). Lately I’ve felt like that unlucky gazelle at the end of the chase.

A particular oddity I experience during times of stress like this is waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning from a dead sleep. Lately I’ve been waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning a whole lot. Over the years I’ve wondered why 3 o’clock, but I’ve gotten into the habit of immediately praying after I awaken, mainly to cast my anxieties on God. Okay, okay, mainly to complain, beg, whine, and implore. So this morning when I woke up from a deep, restful sleep at precisely 2:16 AM, I started once again to express my concern to God about our financial status and my worry that I’ve missed the financial boat by sidelining my savings over the last four years. This despite the fact that I’ve lost complete and total trust in not only the government, but in the stock market and other financial institutions as well. “I feel like I’ve missed out on a huge financial gain because I haven’t been investing,” I grumbled to God.

“You are investing,” God told me quite clearly. “In your writing.”

Whoa . . . . He’s right! I’m working my butt off on my writing and I feel like it’s gotten better—it’s getting better—over the last few years. I can start an essay or short story and actually finish it within a reasonable amount of time, sometimes in an hour or two. Mary and I are learning the trade and are poised to begin the process of marketing in earnest after I crank out my next four books (by the end of the year, God willing). The books are being recognized, and amazing opportunities to do book signings have presented themselves. Nevertheless, I often wonder why God has given me such a passion to pursue something that doesn’t pay. But He recently reminded me, when I asked (okay, nagged) for provision, that He’s already provided it in the form of my old, crusty 401k, the rollover IRA that’s parked in a money market account yielding just enough to pay for a candy bar once a year. Yes, it may seem foolish to the world to rely on withdrawing money from a pre-tax retirement savings account at age 50 to finally answer my calling, but as Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:19 NIV®). God reminded me just this morning that even though I’m in the world, I’m not of the world. Reminds me of that song by Sting. …

After a bit more prayer, God said “Now look at the clock.” When I opened my eyes it was straight up 3:00. Then, after all these years of wondering, He revealed to me why I wake up at that particular time: the number 3 is symbolic of the Trinity. And 3:00 is the time the Trinity does its best work in me. I guess He does care for me.

 

Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes

 

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