Spring Training of Life

Every Tuesday I visit shut ins, mostly at Nursing Homes.  Over the years I've observed people as their physical being gradually ceases to function and ultimately they die.  I'm struck with the dignity with which those who are Christ followers face this inevitability.  Many of them become increasingly homesick for their promised, eternal dwelling place.  At times they even seem to long for the end of human life so that the reality of eternal life can begin.
On the other hand, I also deal with family members who struggle with the decline of their loved ones and who strive to do all that is humanly possible to get just one more day with them.  Sometimes this is even in the face of extreme suffering.  These experiences have led me to think more deeply about the reality of life and life ever lasting.
I've come to believe that human life is merely "spring training" for the season to come.  During this life there are specific skills I need to learn to prepare me for life forever with Jesus.  Paul tells us in Romans 8:29 "For those whom He (God) foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers."  In other words, all of us who have accepted Christ as Savior and Lord (those two are inseparable) will from that moment be in the process of being conformed to the image of our big brother, Jesus.  If we cooperate with the Father in this process, it will go more smoothly.  If we struggle against the Father and His work in us, our human lives will be quite rocky.
So, what are the skills I need to be developing in this life?  Just as in football there are fundamentals such as blocking, tackling, passing, catching and running, also in the Christian life there are also some fundamentals to be learned.

  1. I must learn to love as Jesus loves.  John 13:34-35 "I give you a new command: Love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
  2. I must learn to forgive as I have been forgiven. Matthew 6:12, 14-15 "And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors... For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.  But if you don't forgive people, your father will not forgive your wrongdoing."
  3. I must care about the things that Jesus cares about. Luke 4:18-19 "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.  John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, 'Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'" Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
I know that there are many more commands and examples that Jesus left with us, however, these basics are what we should be working on in our "spring training" of human life.  These will prepare us for the eternal life promised to us by Christ.

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