In 2002 I went on a mission’s trip to New York City with my son Joey and two daughters, Krista and Nikki, along with our Church Youth Group. Gazing at the leveled Twin Towers, I observed two metal beams in the shape of a cross. At once, I became profoundly aware of the unshakable Kingdom of Heaven. Immediately I heard the question in my mind, “what are you living for?”
Dazed by the devastation glaring at me, I thought of the scriptures in Hebrews 12:25-29 that speak of God shaking what is shakable, so that what cannot be shaken [which is His Kingdom] may remain. In other words, when our lives shake, God intends to remove what is temporary, so that what is eternal may remain.
Buildings crumble, and material possessions can shatter. Human efforts and accomplishments may fail, and ideas and dreams can collapse. Little did I know that my entire world would shake on New Year’s Day of 2004 when all three of my daughters would die together in a car crash. Krista was nineteen, Nikki seventeen, and Jessica, twelve, almost thirteen years old. They were on their way to be bridesmaids in their brother’s wedding and collided with another car just one mile from their destination.
So close to their destination—yet God instantly brought them somewhere else. HEAVEN. A transition, I’m sure, they eagerly welcomed. “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Although I know the apostle Paul’s words are right from Phil.1:21, “To live is Christ,” my situation was still tough to embrace.
I immediately entered a world of foreign emotions that affected me both physically and spiritually. My world changed from enjoying fun family times and a house full of activity to that of learning new words like grief, sorrow, and a new normal. I was confronted head-on, once again with the question “what are you living for?”
If you are reading this, you are probably identifying to some degree with what I am saying. The world we live in is suddenly experiencing a collision of life as we know it—to one invaded by this invisible and foreign virus. The Coronavirus Pandemic. Instead of following through with our education, wedding plans, business deals, or vacation plans, we’re learning new words like social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine. Soon, the phrase new normal will become quite familiar to all of us.
Tragedy, disaster, and pandemics shake the foundation of our existence and drastically change our lives. When this happens we realize that we are not the ones in control. Although these things threaten to bury our hope and stifle our joy, they don’t have to destroy us.
The fatal event of losing my daughters could have destroyed my life in several different ways. But because of God’s grace and my strong foundation in Him, I miraculously survived the most violent storm I have ever faced.” The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matt. 7:25).
Even apart from the Coronavirus, no one is immune to the horrors and tribulations that ravage this fallen world. Jesus warned us that storms would come, and yet He promised in His Word that we would find comfort in Him. “I have told you these things that in me you may have peace. In this world, you WILL have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He has promised us a peace that is unlike anything this world has to offer. (John 14:27)
Scripture throughout the Old and New Testament gives us rock-solid footings to establish our firm foundation of faith. Isaiah spoke for the Lord to show what is the true foundation and to convince mankind of their vain and false confidences. “So this what The Sovereign Lord says:‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will not be stricken with panic.” (Isaiah 28:16)
Whether we are building on or establishing our foundation—it must be founded on the Rock, Christ Jesus. (Matt. 7:24-25) The relationships I had with my girls were built on this firm foundation. They were ready to meet their Savior face to face, and I have three beautiful treasures awaiting me in Heaven. They are just as much a part of my future as they ever were.
Our relationships with God and other believers are integral to this unshakable Kingdom of God that will continue for eternity. I felt compelled THEN and still do NOW, to build on things with eternal value. Eternal realities belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and of our God – not to the ways of this world.
Times of crisis remind us that the only thing we can control is how we respond to God and other human beings. Our ‘social distancing’ from people does not mean we have to step back from God. Nor does it mean we totally shut ourselves out from people. We can choose to be motivated by fear or love. Fear will withdraw, but Love will use this as an opportunity to reach out to people in your life through phone calls or social media. We can check in with them, encourage them and share God’s love! We need each other!
President John F. Kennedy said that ‘when written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.’ Crisis’ can be opportunities to become WHAT we were created to be and worship WHO we were created to worship. We could take this time to do a self-check to discover where our heart’s deepest loyalties really are. We could ask ourselves if what we are living for is based on our circumstances, feelings, or, on the realities of heaven that never change, but endure for eternity.
Perhaps now that sports stadiums, movie theaters, concert arenas, shopping malls, restaurants, and our jobs have been shut down—we may hear these words clearer. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by WORSHIPPING HIM with holy fear and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28) When the word, therefore, is used, it is asking us to pay particular attention to what is being said. It is an urgent or essential command made with authority, expecting a response of obedience. So, what are you living for?
HIS LOVE REMAINS
This uncomfortable, crazy, and uncertain time we live in, is an opportunity to lean into God’s love AND eternal realities and promises. Let’s FIX our hearts on what is truly important and so worship our God with holy fear. “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” -2 Cor. 4:17-18
Only what’s done in Jesus’ name will remain. What are YOU living for?
I encourage you, as you think about what you have just read to “Not refuse Him who speaks” (Hebrews 12:25) … but take to heart His words of ETERNAL LIFE.
Everything around us may shake – but His love remains and His Kingdom is UNSHAKABLE.
Here are the lyrics and a link to the song I wrote after and seeing the metal beams in the form of a cross at Ground Zero. Please continue to or else begin to build your life on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.
WHAT ARE YOU LIVING FOR?
by Debbie Mayer
What are you living for? What are you trusting for? What are you building for your life? What are you praying for? Are you knocking on Heaven’s door? Only to find the heavens brass once more?
Maybe you’re building shaky bridges that will crumble.
Maybe you’re building ivory temples that will tumble and fall. At the sound, when He calls your name When all is shaken, what will remain? What will remain?
Chorus – Only what’s done in Jesus’ name. He is the sure foundation, He’s the rock of our salvation
His love is still the same as when He took our shame. He’s the name above all names, He will remain.
What are you hoping for? What are you reaching for? Where is that ‘lucky star’ you’re wishing for?
What are you searching for? Tell me, where is that open door
to the dreams that have been hiding in your heart?
Are you chasing pretty rainbows that just fade away?
Are your dreams just made of vapors that will only melt away? At the sound, when He calls your name when all is shaken, what will remain? What will remain?
His Kingdom cannot be shaken. His righteousness and all His ways remain.
He has promised a fruitful harvest if in every word of His we will obey.
His word remains! Chorus
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Remember there will be no end to God’s love for you!