Thursday, March 17

Intentionally Temporary

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. --2nd Corinthians 4:7, 16-18

One of the courses I took for my major in college was a workshop in environmental planning. I learned what a "master planned community" is, and how much long-term planning goes into a city's general plan. I learned about a city's infrastructure, including its roads, curbs, stop signs and signals. I learned that some things in a city are intentionally designed to serve a temporary purpose. This allows for easy expansion and development later as the population grows.

One such example of a temporary design is easily seen along the edge of some city streets. Have you ever noticed that some parts of town have an asphalt curb rather than a cement one with a sidewalk? This is because asphalt is easier to remove than cement paving. In rural areas especially, the presence of an asphalt curb indicates that sooner or later, either the road will be widened, or a more permanent pedestrian walkway will be put into place.

We tend to think that our place here on earth is more permanent that it really is. We settle into our day to day life and forget that our earthly bodies are temporary. For some, the idea of leaving this world behind is not a pleasant one. People who feel that way are likely very caught up in their world as they know it. They would prefer not to think of themselves as an asphalt curb. They prefer to believe that they are a finished product, built to last and that their present state of being will continue indefinitely.

Most Christians, particularly those who have faced times of difficulty or trials, are encouraged by the idea that our earthly bodies are temporary. We long for heaven and are anxious to trade in our temporary, earthenware vessels for something precious and flawless. Personally, it boggles my mind to think about being in a place where inhalers, antibiotics and multivitamins aren't required in order for me to function from day to day. It is amazing to me to know that God has a plan for his people that will ultimately result in complete freedom from pain, disease and suffering. God has prepared a place where breast cancer, Huntington's disease, cystic fibrosis, MS, lupus, diabetes, you name it...do not exist.

In the meantime, we live each day carrying out our purpose as temporary residents of planet earth. We are made out of clay for a reason. God designed us to be sturdy enough to endure the wear and tear of being human, and plain enough so that we are a testament to his glory and not our own. These temporary shells remind us to be humble. By thinking of ourselves as asphalt curbs that won't exist forever, we are kept attuned to the fact that at any given moment, God can decide to change our lives by bulldozing us to make room for the permanent parts of his master planned community.

I happen to like knowing that the way I am now isn't going to last forever. I have joy in the hope that comes from knowing that someday, God will have completed his purpose for me here on earth. At that time, he will take me to a place that is permanent where I will be given my new and improved, built-to-last heavenly body. In the meantime, I'm learning how to be content in my role as an asphalt curb or a jar of clay.

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