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A Firm Foundation

Sometimes life feels a little shaky, doesn’t it?

In my little world, we’re in the time of year that involves dealing with residency renewals and wondering whether all of those details will work out the same way they have in years past or if something will change. I try not to go down the rabbit hole of what-ifs, but even with a conscious effort not to dwell too much on the various scenarios, feelings of shakiness can creep in.

We’ve all doubtless felt those feelings in the last year as we’ve dealt with COVID and its ramifications. Being reminded every so often that we’re not invincible is a good thing, but this year of pandemic has likely, at times, taken your thoughts beyond that basic aspect of human life into areas that feel more fearful, more anxiety-inducing. Shakier. Things like your physical health, the health of your loved ones, your plans, your children’s education, your job, your church environment, or your emotional well-being may have felt very uncertain in these last months.

And then there’s the political situation. Both in Europe with Brexit and in the U.S. with the complexities of 2020 (and 2021 so far), many people sense the anger of the “other side” and fear the impending changes. Or perhaps you fear the anger of the “other side” but rejoice at the impending changes. Either way, you aren’t sure what the future looks like for your country. It feels a bit shaky to say the least.

The end of Hebrews 12 speaks of God shaking the heavens and the earth so that temporary things will be removed but eternal realities, “things that cannot be shaken,” will remain. The context points back to the cross and also forward to Christ’s second coming, and the principles challenge and encourage us in the present. The author of Hebrews exhorts us to be grateful “for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,” referring to an exchange that has already taken place, giving us peace for the present, and that will continue taking place, offering hope for the future.

God’s people have a status before Him, an inheritance in Him, that cannot be removed. Nothing here on earth can change it, lessen it, or shake it. Some seasons of life find us harder-pressed to remember this fixed reality to be sure, but our emotions, the way we feel about it, cannot change what we’ve been given. The circumstances of our lives aren’t unimportant or inconsequential by any means, but none of them can bring us sure and lasting hope for the present or future. Health isn’t permanent, schooling options change, jobs can be lost, people move, visas can be denied, presidents come and presidents go, governments rise and governments fall. Gifts from God—special people, meaningful events, and societal structures—were never meant to be ultimate: they were never intended substitute for the Giver Himself. When we make good things into ultimate things, we end up slaves to an idol that will turn out to be a terrible master.

Christian, you have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. It’s not a kingdom of this world; any attempt to look for the unshakeable here and now will ultimately be frustrating and unsuccessful. We should absolutely serve and care about people, structures, institutions, etc. on this earth, but we mustn’t make them into what they were never intended to be. As the continuation of the thought in Hebrews states, we are to be grateful for this unshakeable kingdom and “offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe.” Our ultimate purpose is to turn upward, to lift our heads in worship of the Creator and Giver, and, out of the fullness He gives, to love and serve those around us. 

Katy B. serves with MTW in Belgium. 

Katy B., Reflection Feb 2, 2021
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