DAY 6 Life Is a Temporary Assignment LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. Psalm 39:4 (NET) I am here on earth for just a little while. Psalm 119:19 (TEV) Life on earth is a temporary assignment. The Bible is full of metaphors that teach about the brief, temporary, transient nature of life on earth. Life is described as a mist, a fast runner, a breath, and a wisp of smoke. The Bible says, "For we were born but yesterday.... Our days on earth are as transient as a shadow." To make the best use of your life, you must never forget two truths: First, compared with eternity, life is extremely brief. Second, earth is only a temporary residence. You won't be here long, so don't get too attached. Ask God to help you see life on earth as he sees it. David prayed, "Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more." Repeatedly the Bible compares life on earth to temporarily living in a foreign country. This is not your permanent home or final destination. You're just passing through, just visiting earth. The Bible uses terms like alien, pilgrim, foreigner, stranger, visitor, and traveler to describe our brief stay on earth. David said, "I am but a foreigner here on earth," and Peter explained, "If you call God your Father, live your time as temporary residents on earth." In California, where I live, many people have moved from other parts of the world to work here, but they keep their citizenship with their home country. They are required to carry a visitor registration card (called a "green card"), which allows them to work here even though they aren't citizens. Christians should carry spiritual green cards to remind us that our citizenship is in heaven. God says his children are to think differently about life from the way unbelievers do. "All they think about is this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives." Real believers understand that there is far more to life than just the few years we live on this planet. Your identity is in eternity, and your homeland is heaven. When you grasp this truth, you will stop worrying about "having it all" on earth. God is very blunt about the danger of living for the here and now and adopting the values, priorities, and lifestyles of the world around us. When we flirt with the temptations of this world, God calls it spiritual adultery. The Bible says, "you're cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way.' Imagine if you were asked by your country to be an ambassador to an enemy nation. You would probably have to learn a new language and adapt to some customs and cultural differences in order to be polite and to accomplish your mission. As an ambassador you would not be able to isolate yourself from the enemy. To fulfill your mission, you would have to have contact and relate to them. But suppose you became so comfortable with this foreign country that you fell in love with it, preferring it to your homeland. Your loyalty and commitment would change. Your role as an ambassador would be compromised. Instead of representing your home country, you would start acting like the enemy. You'd be a traitor. The Bible says, "We are Christ's ambassadors." Sadly, many Christians have betrayed their King and his kingdom. They have foolishly concluded that because they live on earth, it's their home. It is not. The Bible is clear: "Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul."8 God warns us to not get too attached to what's around us because it is temporary. We're told, "Those infrequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away.” Compared with other centuries, life has never been easier for much of the Western world. We are constantly entertained, amused, and catered to. With all the fascinating attractions, mesmerizing media, and enjoyable experiences available today, it's easy to forget that the pursuit of happiness is not what life is about. Only as we remember that life is a test, a trust, and a temporary assignment will the appeal of these things lose their grip on our lives. We are preparing for something even better. "The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever" The fact that earth is not our ultimate home explains why, as followers of Jesus, we experience difficulty, sorrow, and rejection in this world. It also explains why some of God's promises seem unfulfilled, some prayers seem unanswered, and some circumstances seem unfair. This is not the end of the story. In order to keep us from becoming too attached to earth, God allows us to feel a significant amount of discontent and dissatisfaction in life-longings that will never be fulfilled on this side of eternity. We're not completely happy here because we're not supposed to be! Earth- is not our final home; we were created for something much better. A fish would never be happy living on land, because it was made for water. An eagle could never feel satisfied if it wasn't allowed to fly. You will never feel completely satisfied on earth, because you were made for more. You will have happy moments here, but nothing compared with what God has planned for you. Realizing that life on earth is just a temporary assignment should radically alter your values. Eternal values, not temporal ones, should become the deciding factors for your decisions. As C. S. Lewis observed, "All that is not eternal is eternally useless." The Bible says, "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.” It is a fatal mistake to assume that God's goal for your life is material prosperity or popular success, as the world defines it. The abundant life has nothing to do with material abundance, and faithfulness to God does not guarantee success in a career or even in ministry. Never focus on temporary crowns. Paul was faithful, yet he ended up in prison. John the Baptist was faithful, but he was beheaded. Millions of faithful people have been martyred, have lost everything, or have come to the end of life with nothing to show for it. But the end of life is not the end! In God's eyes, the greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those who treat this life as a temporary assignment and serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity. The Bible says this about God's Hall of Fame: "All these great people died in faith. They did not get the things that God promised his people, but they saw them coming far in the future and were glad. They said they were like visitors and strangers on earth.... they were waiting for a better country-a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared a city for them. "14 Your time on earth is not the complete story of your life. You must wait until heaven for the rest of the chapters. It takes faith to live on earth as a foreigner. An old story is often repeated of a retiring missionary coming home to America on the same boat as the president of the United States. Cheering crowds, a military band, a red carpet, banners, and the media welcomed the president home, but the missionary slipped off the ship unnoticed. Feeling self-pity and resentment, he began complaining to God. Then God gently reminded him, "But my child, you're not home yet." You will not be in heaven two seconds before you cry out, "Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary? What was I thinking? Why did I waste so much time, energy, and concern on what wasn't going to last?" When life gets tough, when you're overwhelmed with doubt, or when you wonder if living for Christ is worth the effort, remember that you are not home yet. At death you won't leave homeyou'll go home. DAY SIX THINKING ABOUT MY PURPOSE Point to Ponder: This world is not my home. Verse to Remember: "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." 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) Question to Consider: How should the fact that life on earth is just a temporary assignment change the way I am living right now?