Facing life can be something like facing that old abandoned house sitting at the back of our farm. It was foreboding and eerily surrounded by high grass.
Yet, it held an alluring intrigue as a place for us children to play. Enticed by adventure, we kids scoured every nook and closet from the attic to the cellar. A confrontation with snakes in the living room, however, immediately and permanently redefined that old house. We never played there again. A couple of years later we celebrated my father setting it on fire. Watching it burn to the ground was a delight for all us kids. That dark and dilapidated structure stood as a haunting threat to our lives. It was crawling alive with death.
Each of us might view the earth and all its treasures as that old house — an enticing death trap. Why are we taught to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil?” Real danger daily lurks in our path as conspicuous as in the middle of the living room of the abandoned house. All the earth’s treasures and pleasures go up in smoke in sudden abruptness. Spending our lives to gain these treasures of earth destines us to have nothing.
Our daily routine might be compared to tiptoeing over snakes; a peril and threat that are real. How can this wonderful earthly life be a death trap? In an instantaneous puff, all our earthly wealth and health vanish. Every day we all are compelled to choose one of two avenues here on earth. We can allow ourselves to be captivated by the allurements of earth, creating a fantasy world in which we pretend life on earth with all its amenities of pleasure and possessions, is long and endless.
The second avenue is to dismiss seeking the earth and to seek heaven; seeing all the wonders of earthly creation as a marvelous display of its Creator. This second avenue includes acknowledging the Creator’s overt revelation of himself in the phenomenal life and miracles of Jesus Christ. The first avenue of living for this world, is irrational and self-deceptive. The second avenue is marveling at the wonders and perfections of every creature and therefore their Creator.
Today we Americans find ourselves in a dilemma — staying away from each other, social distancing, to terminate the coronavirus pandemic; and at the same time seeking to break the quarantine, restoring monetary/economic survival — opening our businesses and commerce. Many of us are perplexed. Whatever we do seems to be a benefit and at the same time a detriment. We can’t seem to win for losing. In contrast, our choice to live for this world or to live for the next, has no ambivalence. We are left a total loser or a total winner.
With its alluring, curbside appeal of immediate gratification, choosing earth’s passing delights is the most unfortunate and grave mistake. Such a choice closes our eyes to the superlative perfection of all creation and therefore to its Creator.
Watching that old farmhouse burn to the ground, seeing it for what it was with all its venomous threat, is much like our everlasting delight in God’s Kingdom, having allowed Him to “deliver us from evil.”
On the avenue to heaven is the only answer for the question, “Where on earth can I be safe?”