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Getting Out

June 16, 2011

I work with many teenagers that have either been pulled from their homes for various reasons or have been placed in a residential treatment facility because, according to someone important, their parents cannot or perhaps will not care for them appropriately.  Working with these kids day to day I am able to see them make many unwise choices.  Some of them go AWOL.  Others constantly bicker and fight with their peers and staff.  Some physically harm themselves and do everything in their power to get the attention of someone who cares.  Others develop elaborate plans of deception in order to get their peers to join with them in some kind of negative behavior.  Whatever the offense, when one of them makes a poor choice and I am fortunate enough to talk with him or her afterwards I am convinced that most of what I say and the advice I give falls on deaf ears.  In fact, I’m sure it does because the client has no problem telling me so.  That is, until I bring up one thing: getting out.  It has been my experience that most instruction given to teenagers in a residential treatment center goes in one ear and out the other.  However, when I start asking them about what they really want in life they almost always say they want out.  They want to go home.  They want to get a job, make more friends, enjoy time with their families, make lots of money, drive fast cars and most of all, eat good food.  Once the conversation reaches this point I am able to drive the dagger of common sense into the heart by saying something like, “Do you think the decision you just made is showing us that you are prepared for that kind of life?”  If they are honest, which they almost always are at this point, they will see things my way, the conversation will continue and their negative behaviors will subside (for a while).

In his book, A Godly Man’s Picture, Thomas Watson opens his introduction with these words, “The soul being so precious, and salvation so glorious, it is the highest point of prudence to make preparations for another world.  It is beyond all dispute that there is an inheritance in light, and it is most strenuously asserted in Holy Scripture that there must be a fitness and suitability for it.”  Just like the kids I work with I long for the day when I can get out.  I long for my true heavenly home.  I long for my new physical body and most of all I long to eat at my Father’s table.  It is at this point I hear Watson whisper in my ear, “Do you think that what you are doing now is preparing you for that life?”

As Christians we are being fitted for heaven.  That’s not something we hear a lot about in our Christian bubbles but it’s true.  Psalm 24 asks the question, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart.”  Okay, but what does it mean to be fitted for heaven?   What does it mean to have a pure heart or clean hands?  What does that look like?  That is Thomas Watson’s goal in A Godly Man’s Picture.  He wants to give us a picture of true piety.  What is piety?  To put it simply, to be pious is to be devoted and conformed to God in all aspects of our lives.  I’m going to take the next several blog posts and do my best to present what Watson says is a true picture of piety.

You see, the truth is that I am just like the kids I work with every day.  Sometimes I can’t believe how they can be deceived so easily or how they can do what they’re doing and expect to get out of their current situation.  But how many times have I traded eternal pleasure for those that are fleeting and temporary just like them?  Perhaps as we think about what it means to be fitted for heaven we will admit with Watson that “[piety] is the grand business that should swallow up your time and thoughts.”  Maybe we will stop going spiritually AWOL.  Maybe we will stop trying to justify our minimal commitment to the gospel and the church of Christ by comparing ourselves to other minimalistic Christians.  Maybe we will stop self-destructing.  Maybe we will stop buying in to the deception of the world around us.  Maybe we will start to see that our souls are precious and our salvation is glorious and we will seek to do everything we can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to prepare ourselves for the day we finally get out.

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