Opportunity Knocked Out

Like you, my heart was knocked to the ground over the sick tragedy in Texas yesterday. With that in mind, the Lord brought me to a very interesting passage in Hebrews.

Hebrews 11:15 (ESV) If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.

What a way to state an important concept for the Church. Let me explain: The writer of Hebrews is talking about those who laid aside the earthy ventures of comfort and notoriety to serve the Lord. He says they weren’t thinking about the place that they came from. And when he frames this idea he says, “if they had been THINKING” of where they came from it would have created an opportunity for them to return to their old life. Why the tie between “thinking” and “opportunity?” Because scripture is always speaking!

The verse highlights the importance of our thoughts and how they are the first door to opportunity. This is why we must guard our thoughts continually. We may be opening doors that we do not want to walk through. So, let me ask: What are you meditating on? What are you allowing to occupy territory in your mind? If we are not careful, our thinking about what kind of comfortable life we can build for ourselves here will open an opportunity to get just that – a very temporary comfortable experience here in this life. The problem? We would miss out on the “better country” the writer in Hebrews talks about in the very next verse!

Hebrews 11:16 (ESV) But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

In the wake of another mass shooting where for the second time in recent history people showed up to worship Jesus and ended up meeting Him face to face, it’s important to get the proper perspective on what it means to be a Christian. Sadly, this is the nation we live in. I hate that almost every morning we get more news of senseless violence and hatred. If we are not careful, however, we will let our minds slip into the mantra of this age and think only about our temporary existence.

Do not get me wrong here. Christians should mourn and weep for those in Texas who must now pick up the pieces of this horrific event. The Bible even reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that “there is a time to mourn.” When Stephen was stoned as the Church’s first martyr, there was no celebration by the Church. They mourned him deeply:

Acts 8:2 (ESV) Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. The Early Church was not so heavenly minded they did not take into account earthly hardship. But at the same time, they knew their mourning and thinking about such things was categorically different.

In Thessalonians, Paul says we are people who mourn, but we are not normal mourners: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. While there is never going to be an absence of pain, there can be a presence of perspective only Christ can bring. It is the perspective of hope that what we now experience will one day be wiped out for eternity AND each episode of this present evil age is a birthing pain reminder that the redemption of our bodies and all creation is closer than ever before.

So my question for you is way beyond the “why” we always ask. My question is “what are you aiming for?” Are you letting the tragedies and drawbacks of your world or personal life open your mind to what you’ve lost out on? Are you creating an “opportunity” with your thoughts to go backward and lose sight of your future fixed in Christ?  Today’s evil is a persistent reminder that the world is not as it should be. We’ve been rescued from it with redemption coming after it and we must set our hearts on things above and not on things below.

Close the door of turning back in your mind. Remind yourself instead: the better country lies ahead.