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Reality - loathe it, love it, or learn from it

A couple of months ago, Luke (my youngest son) was home from college, and he had some friends over for a little get-together. Laura and I were upstairs, and he and his friends were down in the basement, from where he texted me, “Dad, come downstairs as soon as you can.”

I didn’t want to go downstairs, so I texted him back, “Why?” Luke said, “Because I want to show you some technology that will change your life forever.” Needless to say, I went downstairs.

When I got to the basement, Luke gave me a headset to put on over my eyes and some half-gloves to slip on over my fingers. As I did so, I stepped into another world. That’s right. Virtual Reality (VR). I was standing in the middle of a dirt road in a medieval village holding a lightsaber. (I’m not making this up.) I could see my hands in front of me, my feet and legs beneath me, and shops and homes all around me.

And then the bad guys and girls appeared, and I was supposed to kill them . . . with my lightsaber.

I had never experienced VR before, and I can attest to the fact that it was, well, amazingly, virtually real. Did it change my life forever? No, but it definitely got me thinking. As I reflected on my “game-changing experience,” I began to wonder: How much of my time do I spend wishing I was in some other reality? Let’s face it. We all have those moments where we wish we were living another life, or had another job, or made more money, or didn’t have our current problems, issues or challenges. The grass looks greener, at least virtually, in someone else’s reality. But we are where we are, and we can loathe it, love it, or learn from it. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that we can learn to be content in our current circumstances, whatever they may be, through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

If developers came up with a Virtual Reality game for pastors, I bet it would be a big hit. Put on the headset, and you are morphed into a virtual reality of a bigger church with people who never complain, never say your sermons don’t have enough meat, and where the worship wars have ended in peace. I’m sure you could come up with your own VR game to fit your life’s situation.

But here’s the hard truth. God uses our current reality to prepare us for the heavenly reality, and there’s no detour. We can’t go around it, over it, or underneath it. We have to go through it in order to grow from it and be prepared for the reality God will one day reveal.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains” (The Great Divorce). Let’s embrace our current reality and throw off the temptation of a virtual reality in order to prepare for the heavenly reality. That is how “we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, ESV).

That, my friends, is a reality that will definitely change your life forever.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

What would you do with the gift of extra time?

My brother-in-law and his wife found their way to the marriage altar the same year Laura and I did—1992.  Laura and I celebrated 28 years of marriage last month, while Mark and Carla will be celebrating anniversary number seven, at least on the actual day of their marriage.  How so?  Leap Year.  They proudly married on Leap Year Day, February 29, 1992, and since that day only rolls around every four years, they justify their quips of being married seven years with two daughters in their twenties.

That’s right, we are now in another Leap Year, where February 29 is added to our precious Gregorian calendar, giving us 366 days to live instead of the usual 365.  I don’t want to bore you with too much detail, but Leap Year was invented to compensate for the earth’s annual trek around the sun, which lasts a fraction longer (about .2422 of a day) than the Gregorian calendar’s 365 days.  By adding an extra day every four years or so (the year must be divisible by 4, and a century year must be divisible by 400), the calendar stays synchronized with the four seasons.  Without it, the calendar would be off by 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds each year.  Feel better?

So, why all the fuss?

What if I told you that I could miraculously give you an extra day—a day that only comes around every four years?  What if I could give you the gift of extra time?  Time beyond what’s normally scheduled to fit in 365 days a year.  What would you do with that gift?

Well, thanks to some brilliant astronomers and other scientists, we have that gift available to us this year.  My question to you is: What are you going to do with it?  How are you going to live in that extra time of February 29? 

God is not surprised by the surplus of time.  He “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).  He is the One who created “lights in the vault of the sky to . . . serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years” (Genesis 1:14).  He knew all along that this year, 2020, we would have the gift of an extra day.

My suggestion is that before you cram it full of regular Saturday activities and treat it just like any ordinary day, why not set it apart as a holy day, a Sabbath?  Why not receive this gift of an extra day and use it for laughter, rest, and re-creation of your mind and soul? 

Don’t worry, “time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking into the future.”  March 1 will be waiting for you right around the corner, and life will go on.  But what a blessing to step out of the normal 365-day year and live the extra 366th day in celebration and joy.  Let’s enjoy it while we can because we won’t see it again for another four years.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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