Jump Start # 2075
Hebrews 11:15 “And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.”
Our verse today is the story of those early patriarchs that we read about in Genesis. Abraham was the first. He was called by God to leave his home land. They were following God. They lived as strangers and exiles on the earth. Their destination was that heavenly country which is far better than any country here.
It is in the midst of those thoughts that our verse appears. Within this verse are several lessons for us.
First, their journey was their choice. God called them to leave, but God has called others, like Jonah, and he went the other way. We call this principle free will. The will to choose to be a follower of God or not.
Second, the key to remaining on that journey was thinking. They were thinking about that heavenly country. Had they been thinking of what they left, they would have returned. Not only does this again remind us of choice, but it speaks of focus and determination. We do what is right when we put our minds to it. But when we don’t think, don’t focus, it’s easy to lose our destination and our purpose. When a guy says, “I guess I just wasn’t thinking…” that pretty much sums it up. Set your mind on things above is what the Colossians were told. Let your mind dwell upon these things is what the Philippians were told. Renew the mind is what we find in Romans. There are some things we do in life that just doesn’t take a lot of brain power. Taking the trash out is like that. Housework is like that. Brushing your teeth is like that. We just do those things and in fact while we are doing those things our minds can be somewhere else. But other things require our attention, our energy and our focus. Driving a car does. This is what the distracted driver is such a problem. He is not focused. He is not paying attention. His mind is on his phone or else where. So, we must be thinking about our journey. We must make it our ambition to please the Lord.
Third, there is always opportunity to go back. There is always opportunity to leave the journey. There is always opportunity to walk away from the Lord. Had there been no other options, then this heavenly journey would not have been made by choice. There is always opportunity to go the other way. Any time someone wants to go down to the docks, they will find a boat waiting for them to go the other way. Jonah found that.
The devil provides three things with every command of God. He provides the opportunity to disobey God’s command. He provides a ready excuse to justify disobeying God. And, he often provides a crowd to encourage us to disobey God. The journey with God can be lonesome, but one will always find a crowd to leave God. Putting this in modern terms, you’ll always find a website that mocks the church, ridicules the Bible and belittles God. They are there. Spending much time there and you’ll get your ticket stamped to get on board and head that other way. Our moms told us that crowds do not make things right. She’d say things like, “if everyone is jumping off a cliff, would you join them.” Rather extreme, Mom, but she’s right. The opportunity to go back is always there. Israel wanted to do that often after they left Egypt. They even said life was better in Egypt with Pharaoh, than it was in the wilderness with God. They forgot. They failed to count their blessings. There was an opportunity to return and Israel was thinking about that.
When prodigals come back home, unless something changes in their heart, the opportunity to return to the far country remains. The taste of the wild life remains. Soon, the pain of failure passes and the memory of pleasure and fun returns. What they think about determines whether they will remain at home or again go to the far country. Opportunity will present itself. It always does.
Fourth, for Abraham and his descendants, it was faith in God that made all the difference. It is the same for us. Two Sundays ago, the focus in most churches was upon the empty tomb. Yesterday, in those same churches, it was the empty pew. Why? Faith. Choice. Opportunity. What folks are thinking about.
We are not unlike Abraham. We are not called to leave Ur for an unknown land, however we are called to leave the direction of this world and follow Christ. Like Abraham, we are strangers and aliens in this land. This is not home. They do things differently here. When some travel overseas, they like to do what the locals do. They like to blend in. That may work on vacation and seeing local cafes, but some do this spiritually. They have blended in with society and the times and they no longer act like strangers. The song, “This world is not my home,” is changed to “This world could be my home.” We look, dress, act and do what the world is doing, we are no longer passing through. We’ve settled. We’ve taken our minds off of the destination.
There is an old story going back to the Civil War when some troops were moving. As they settled for the night, the order was not to drive the tent stakes in too deep. “We are not staying here long, boys,” was the command. That ought to be our command. We, too, are not staying here long. We are on the move. We are marching to Zion.
Opportunity to go back. Opportunity to go back to what you know. Opportunity to return to what is comfortable and familiar. Opportunity to be with those you know. Return or move forward? Stay or keep advancing? Settle or seek something that is better? Abraham had those thoughts and opportunities. You and I have those thoughts and opportunities. Satan paints a pretty picture of life back home. Look what you are missing, he tells you. It’s so easy back here. Everybody’s here. Opportunity. Choices. Thinking.
Abraham moved forward. How about you? Staying here or moving on with God?