My family just moved away from our home of 12 years. It was the best house ever, I've ecided. Although my room was smaller than my parent's bathroom, it had a closet that I could sleep in and when I just needed to get out I could climb out the window onto the roof. Outside there were two groves of trees, one each for me and my sister to play 'house' with and plenty of empty land in between so we could see when my brother was trying to sneak up on us. We had a circular driveway that was perfect for playing 'roller capades' and a game room that served as a great stage for dance recitals, plays and wrestling matches. Our new house is alright, it has potential. But it's just not home.
When I was in 2nd grade, we learned about Abraham- a man who left his home of 75 years to go who knows where, just because God told him to. Abraham really wasn't anything pectacular, in fact, he was a coward. He lied to the Pharaoh, claiming that his wife was actually his sister, just to save his own skin. Yet God was able to use him, because, as Hebrews says, he kept his eye on an "unseen city with real, eternal foundations- the City designed and built by God." This wasn't his home.
Enoch was always a fascination to me. The man lived to be 365 years old and he never died. Nope, Genesis makes it clear that Enoch walked with God and then one day he was simply gone- God took him. I'm not sure that Enoch was anyone particularly brilliant, but he pleased God because he lived by faith. His eyes were constantly on Heaven, not on the things of
this world. So maybe God just decided to grant the deepest desire of his heart and take him to the Far Country.
And what was the deal with Noah? What was really so special about him that God just decided to pick him out of the entire world and allow him and his family to live? Well, Noah lived in a time where men were entirely wicked- the thoughts of their hearts were evil and full of violence. But Noah found favor in the eyes of God. How? He was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and He walked with God (in the words of Genesis 6.) He could have lived a depraved life like his neighbors, I'm sure it would have been easier than listening to them laugh at him for building a huge boat in the middle of the desert. Maybe Noah knew something his neighbors didn't: home is where your heart is- and his heart's home was in a far away Kingdom.
Each of these men lived their lives as foreigners in a distant land by recognizing that they were meant for eternity. I once had a professor who told me that we should live our lives "Soli Deo Gloria"- it is a Latin phrase that means "for the glory of God alone." He explained that we should live each day solely for God, understanding that we are merely shadows passing through this world into a far better one. Now, this is all really poetic sounding- but what does it really mean? How do we live "Soli Deo Gloria", with heaven in mind?
Think of it this way: every action, every thought, every word should reflect Christ. When you are in school and your friends are gossiping about the weird looking new boy with the cracked front tooth, do you join in? Not if you are living for the glory of God, your friends should see Him in your words- don't gossip with them! When you are at home and your mother asks you to set the table for dinner, do you grumble and complain? Do you roll your eyes and obey, but think unkind things about her? Obey your mother cheerfully (both inwardly and outwardly!) and know that this makes God smile. Sure, it's easier to gossip and grumble, but when you do that you are living for the world. When you are choosing a new outfit to buy, do you immediately find the tightest, lowest cut shirt that shows off your curves? That wouldn't be honoring the guys that you spend time with, and it definitely isn't living Soli Deo Gloria.
I think the coolest thing about these faith people of the Old Testament is that they didn't know Jesus Christ. They knew that the Promised One would come one day and they held onto that knowledge, believing that God would save them. Hebrews tells us that even though these people led exemplary lives, they did not receive Christ during their lifetimes....because God had a better plan! "That their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole. Their lives of faith not complete apart from ours." (Hebrews 11:40) That means that as we live Soli Deo Gloria, our faith reflects the faith of those who have gone before us. Our faiths are connected! So next time you read the Old Testament, don't think "These people had so much faith- I could never be like them." You both lived your lives in this world for the glory of God, and that is all He asks us to do. And one day we will sit down to eat with Moses, Enoch, Abraham, and David and we'll talk with Joshua, Noah, and Esther- and we'll be Home.
by Kathryn Edwards, copyright www.virtuousreality.com