For those of you not quite sure what a sojourner is, let me explain. By definitition, it refers to someone taking up a temporary residence. For us Christians, it's a reminder that this world is NOT our home. We're only... stopping through... so to speak. Now, keeping that in mind, let's look at Chan's characteristic for the Sojourner:
"A person who is obsessed thinks about heaven frequently. Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them." p. 142.
A few years ago, the small group we were in at the time, had a conversation on this subject matter. The question posed to us was whether we spend our time here on earth thinking about our lives here... or our lives in heaven. Everyone in the group took this to be a literal question, citing that it's hard to think about life in heaven because we don't really know what it will be like. Life here on earth, on the other hand, was easy to focus on... for a myriad of reasons! I remember sitting there, pondering the question, feeling as if there was a deeper issue needing to be explored. For me, when I heard the question, my interpretation was a little different. I took it as this: When posed with circumstances, questions, conflicts (whatever the case may be) are my decisions based on my sinful life here on earth or are they based on the reward I will get in heaven? Do I chose to resolve my "worldly issues" with the understanding that I'm a sojourner... more importantly, do I solve them with the understanding that my choices here in this world could (most definitely!) effect my eternal life in His kingdom?
When I posed the question to the group, I remember everyone taking pause...including myself! How often do we think about life in heaven when we make seemingly trivial decisions here on earth? But, the better question is this: If we started thinking about our eternal life in heaven when we make ALL of our decisions here on earth... would we make the same decisions? (Warning: Answering this question just might make you a little... or a lot... uncomfortable!)
This morning, I finished one of the most thought provoking, utterly convicting (and confirming!) books that I've read in a long time... second only to Crazy Love. (The irony here is that both books were given to me by the same person! My husband joked that maybe I shouldn't borrow any more books from her for a while!) The book is entitled Under The Overpass by Mike Yankoski. Mike and his friend Sam spent about five months of their lives living on the streets... as homeless people. What they discovered... especially about the church as a whole... was more than disconcerting! Of course, there were a few bright lights out there being the hands and feet of Christ... but not a lot. Anyway, at the end of the book, an interesting question is posed to the reader and I want to pass it a long to you:
"What would I do during my day or in my life for God if I wasn't concerned with what I wear, what I eat, where I sleep, what I own, what people think of me, or what discomforts I face?"
Shortly after asking this question, Matthew 16:24-25 is referenced:
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life must lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." (emphasis added)
For the first time, I see this Scripture in a new light. Maybe it's just where I am right now in the journey, but as I sit here, staring at my computer screen, the conviction and confirmation is undeniable... and more than a little terrifying... but, nonetheless, undeniable! "To lose my life" means that I must finally let go of the life I have right now... the life my husband and I have created for ourselves (a creation that we didn't plan... it just "happened" because we believed what society conditioned us to believe...it's just suppose to be "this" way!) I won't go into the specifics, because the specifics are ours... this journey with Jesus is different for all of us! Walking away from the life we have created won't be easy... and it won't happen over night. It's been a process that we began almost nine months ago. But, even in the baby steps we have taken (some of them painful), God has confirmed our decisions every step of the way. At the very end of Under the Overpass, Mike writes these words... words I want you to ponder for the next few days...
"There's only this left to do: Walk off the ledge with Him."
Some of you might think the idea of "walking off the ledge with Him" seems a "little drastic"...I don't blame you. Walking off a ledge, given the context, can embody a sense of desperation, lack of preparation... even carelessness. Obviously, this isn't the intention. But, for those with a weaker constitution lets refer to it as "taking a leap of faith with Him." (A leap is not as intimidating!)