“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt
and that the Lord brought you out of there
with a mighty hand…”
Deuteronomy 5:15 (NIV)
A truly remarkable priest in the Church of England in the 1700’s was John Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace. Newton had lived a very evil life for many years. His mouth was full of blasphemies and profane language. His thoughts and desires were consistently evil.
During a violent storm at sea Newton finally cried out to God for mercy and through that experience of near death, became a devout Christian. Newton went on to become an Anglican minister. In his study he had a framed text that read, “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt”.
What the man was seeking to do was to remind himself daily of the land of sin from which the Lord had removed him. Newton seemed to be constantly amazed at the grace of God toward such a blasphemer as himself. He marvelled that his voice, which once cursed and swore, could become an instrument for telling the Good News of Jesus the Saviour. He never wanted to forget the place from which God had delivered him.
Over the centuries God’s people have come to see that they were once in the bondage of sin (Egypt) and have been led out of their spiritual wilderness by their Moses (Jesus Christ).
In the New Testament Paul refers to Christians as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). By this he means that we live in a foreign country (earth), we represent a foreign power (God Almighty), our real home is elsewhere (heaven), we have a message for the citizens of this world (be reconciled to God).
The great longing of all good ambassadors is to represent their government well, and to eventually get back to their homeland. John Newton recognised that he had been delivered from the world of sin and was en route to heaven. As long as he lived in this world he desired to give the message of his Master to everyone who would listen to him.
The more we understand what our real mission in this life is as Christians, the easier it will be for us to accept the inevitable times of sorrow and adversity. We are on a journey to our real home which is heaven. Therefore if we lose some of the blessings of this life such as good health, a good standard of living, a happy family life, all is not lost.
Christians endure hardship in this world because we understand this life is not our heaven. This world is not our final home. We have a place in God’s eternal home (John 14:1-3). The life to come is what really matters. It is great if this life goes well for us and we live to a grand old age in relative health with a good family life. However, what really matters is to keep our eye on what is coming in the next life. A focus on that reality shall cause us to keep on in this life even if things go very wrong. Heaven is the Christian’s destination. For believers, this life is a journey and not a destination. May that thought keep you stable in the storms that have/will come your way.