Somewhere along the path, I side-stepped having a normal life. I didn’t do it on purpose, and I don’t even know how it happened. Sometimes I think that if I could figure out where I went wrong, I might be able to do something to change it. Of course, there is really no such thing as normal in this sense, but perhaps we could say average. It sounds like a boring word, bringing to mind statistics. I know that I don’t actually want to be like everyone else, but I do want friends and family. I want a husband to plan for the future with, and children to love. I want my life to mean something to someone else, and to not feel alone. This, I know, is where I am supposed to look to God. During a week when I felt this gaping hole in my chest, I sat down one morning to do my Bible reading and read these words from God:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.Colossians 3:1-4
If then, Paul wrote. It is a rhetorical if because he has made his case that those who believe have been raised, and he was preparing to instruct us all on how to respond to this truth, “Seek the things that are above. . .” I am too often focused on “things that are on earth.” But this is not appropriate because “[I] have died.” My earthly life is put to death, and I have a new life that “is hidden with Christ in God.” The day this appeared in my morning Bible reading, I immediately pulled out a note card and wrote it down. During my lunch break, I began memorizing these verses, meditating on them as I read them over, repeatedly. Every sentence hit me with force and choked me up, but the third verse more than the others: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
“If then you have been raised with Christ. . .you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” It is no wonder that we struggle when we try to seek the things of a life that we have died to. A person can work to achieve two different objectives, but when the goals are opposite each other, we will find ourselves stuck. Scripture often reminds us what to seek and what not to seek. I have boiled down 1 Corinthians 7 to this very idea, “Do not seek. . .” And, of course, Jesus admonished us in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these [earthly needs] will be added to you.” These are the Scriptures that taught me not to live my life seeking a husband. But clearly, I still need frequent reminders from God to “Set [my mind] on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” This underscores the importance of regular Bible reading. We are every day surrounded by the ‘things that are on earth,’ if we do not make a purposeful effort to “seek the things that are above,” we will never have the proper perspective.
As I continued to meditate on these verses, I wondered about what it meant for my life to be “hidden with Christ in God.” At first, I think I overlooked verse four, which begins, “When Christ who is your life. . .” Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ. . .” Now, in Colossians, we should not miss this statement, “Christ who is your life. . .” And there is more, because “to die is gain.” This is not just for Paul, but for us also, for “When Christ who is your life appears, you also will appear with him in glory.” I feel like verse four should end with an exclamation point! What is the hidden life? It is the life in glory that far outshines the mist that is this earthly life:
For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.1 Corinthians 4:17-18
What can I say? How can I respond, except to set my mind on Christ and determine to make my life about Him? When I do this, I go from feeling empty to feeling restless about how I ought to be serving Him. There is no time to reflect on the disappointments of life, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
I come to the same conclusion over and over, as I learn what it means to follow Christ: I must be immersed in the Scriptures if I am going to live for Him. How do we live for someone we do not see? We must know Him, and we do this through the Word that has been revealed to us. I know that in addition to my daily readings, I need to get back to memorizing Scripture, so that God’s word will be with me always. And my meditations will not be on myself or my earthly life, but on the love and grace of Him who raised me from the dead and hid my life with Him above.