I have found that in this life we all have seasons, both good and difficult. I am so grateful to the Lord that most of our seasons are good and fewer are difficult. I have also found that it’s in those difficult seasons that we do our best spiritual growing and faith building. It would seem that God uses the hard times to mature us and to get us to trust in Him more than we would have otherwise. I also believe that we all have an emotional disposition that manifests in a mind picture that tells the story of where we are currently at in life. If someone were to ask you to paint a picture of where you are at right now emotionally what would that picture look like? For some it might be relaxing on a South Pacific beach, for others it might in a wooded forest, and still others might find themselves in a cozy cabin nestled near a warm fireplace. While I celebrate those who can enjoy those emotional pictures, mine as of late is not so glamorous. At the risk of being somewhat vulnerable I should like to share my emotional picture in an effort to contrast this world with that which is to come for us as believers in Jesus. I have shared this picture in another blog and I am doing it again in an effort to help some of you brothers, who may be in a similar place, to appreciate what it is that God is doing for you and has done for you in the past.
I begin with this passage from the Apostle Paul, “For we know that if our earthly house (physical body), this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation (dwelling) which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee (down payment, earnest). 6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1-8
Paul uses the word ‘groan’ twice in this passage. As we look at where he was at when he wrote this letter, we can understand why he was groaning. He was really looking forward to being with the Lord and no longer in this world. While it’s true that God used Paul to give us most of the NT, it’s clear that Paul wanted to be with Jesus, especially as he neared the end of his earthly life. While none of us knows when our end will be, we do know that we will have one, be it by rapture or by a timely death, our end in this world will happen. We all have a personal eschatology. Some people experience a rougher exit than others. Some people’s emotional picture is more dyer than nice, especially toward the end of their lives. It’s part of the ride in this sinful world; just take a peak in any convalescent home and you will see a lot of bleak pictures of people who used to be someone and who are now waiting for their departure. My concern is that many of them don’t know Jesus and are only a heartbeat away from Hell. The elderly and infirmed are in need of a Savior just as much as those who think they don’t need to be saved.
I remember when I was on the job as an officer and was called to handle a DBR (dead body report) in a convalescent hospital in our city. When I arrived at the convalescent center I had to inspect the body of an elderly Asian lady who had died a few hours earlier. We needed to make sure no foul play was involved. As me and my partner examined her lifeless body, I asked myself who this woman was, did she have a family, children, grandchildren, was she beautiful at one time in her life, did she fall in love and marry her husband, what was her story? All of these questions flashed through my mind and fluids seeped out of certain orifices in her body as we turned her over, insuring her peaceful passing. I thought, did this woman even know who Jesus was? Judging from the Buddha statues in the room, I gathered that she didn’t. This broke my heart as I am sure it broke the Father’s heart as well. Our life is but a vapor compared to eternity and we need a solid faith in Jesus to secure that eternity. Whether we believe it or not, we all have an eternity and last I checked, there are only two placed in eternity that exist, HEAVEN AND HELL. Life is as precious as the soul that is within us, and only Jesus can save one’s soul from Hell. Paul’s picture penned in this passage of scripture is one of hope for the believer in Jesus. This ‘tent’ will be destroyed one day, this body will die and then our spirit will be released into eternity.
For the Christian, we will be ushered into Heaven, for the non-Christian, they will be sequestered in Hell. This is the essence of the Gospel message and one that we need to embrace by faith and share it with others.
My emotional picture is one of a cage that is hanging from a greased chain in the middle of a cave that is as dark as it is quiet. The bottom of the cage is graced with a wooden floor and recently this cage grew taller, enough for me to be inside and raise my hands in worship. I can manage to get atop the cage by removing a loose bar, and I can stand atop a fixed wooden platform on the roof of the cage. However, I can’t stay there long as there’s a dragon flying around the cave intent on eating me. I don’t have to tell you he represents. I have found that this cage is not only my captor, but this cage also acts as protection from this critter. The cave temperature is neutral as is the air quality. I can’t seem to get out or away from this predicament, but it doesn’t limit my love for the Lord, for others, or my ability to worship and celebrate Jesus from within the cage. While I long to be freed from this cage, I can celebrate the many victories others may experience with a genuine appreciation and love. I celebrate Jesus from this cage knowing that one day I will be freed from it and finally be with the Lord. This cage, this tent, this body is my temporary dwelling place and while other people’s cages may have no solid floor; just bars with spikes on them, I am blessed with a solid floor that I can rest on. I have found that some cages have spikes on the barred floors which speak to those many souls who suffer with chronic pain and have trouble sleeping, and living. It takes a special kind of grace for them to endure until the end. Their cage is more uncomfortable than my cage, just like their life is more difficult than mine. This is the way of things. My cage is surrounded with hanging carrots. if I grab one, the floor will open from under me. Those carrots represent the many temptations I face in life; we all know that the lust of the flesh and eyes along with the pride of life are all masked in the flavor and look of a carrot. Sometimes they manifest as cheese, but the point is the same; they are always hidden in traps and connected to trap doors that lead us away from God.
I was recently informed that a person I was ministering to passed away. His cause of death was not released by the coroner’s office due to confidentiality, but I know that for him that the floor of his cage had bars with spikes on the bottom as he couldn’t sleep because of the pain he was in. Now he is freed from his cage, hopefully in Heaven. Some people who used to be in cages have since been freed also, not because of death, but rather it’s due to an array of fortunate changes in their life’s circumstances. Some have fallen in love again, others have been blessed with good jobs, and still others have experienced God’s grace with new life, a new home, new opportunity, or fresh hope. While we long for Heaven, we still live on the earth, which will seem like a cage compared to glory. Paul was onto something as he pondered his eternal life with Christ and penned the same for us to anticipate.
The purpose of this blog is to help people to appreciate the blessings that God has given to them and to celebrate God’s goodness in the lives of others, even if they are in a cage. This is what it means to celebrate Jesus, even from our own lack or from our cage. We will one day be with the Christ, and all of those who have loved His appearing. Whatever your emotional disposition or picture is, good or bad, nothing can compare to the glory that awaits us as believers in Jesus in Heaven. Some people are sad, depressed, unstable, and even uncomfortable with their life; their cage, their circumstance. It reminds me of the lady who was cleaning out her bird cage with a vacuum hose. The bird, named Tweedy, was on its perch, the lady ran the hose through the bottom of the cage and without warning, Tweedy was sucked into the vacuum hose and into the dust bag. The lady quickly turned off the vacuum cleaner and rescued little Tweedy from the collector bag. The bird was noticeably shook up, but otherwise okay. A week later a friend asked the lady how Tweedy was doing, her reply, ‘He’s okay but he doesn’t sing as much anymore.’ We were never guaranteed a plush life when we accepted the Christ and it’s true that life may have been better for you in the past. Regardless, we need to make the most out of this life, whether you’re in a cage, on a perch, in a vacuum bag, or on the beach. God has given you a portion of His Spirit and He has empowered you as a believer in Jesus to endure this life and to share His gospel with those He leads you towards.
I encourage you to celebrate Jesus from your cage and anticipate His return very soon with as much fervency as you put into His Word and your prayer life. God loves you, trust Him. Let’s celebrate God’s goodness from our cage, whatever it looks like, it’s our commission in this world. We must believe that what God has promised to us in His Word regarding our eternity with Him in Heaven will come to pass. One day we will be freed from this cage, this tent, this life and we will enter into eternity where we will forever be with the Lord! Until then, keep on singing.
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Southern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.
3 thoughts on “Celebrating Jesus from a Cage”
Had to subscribe again as I wasn’t getting the emails. Send them again please.
Hallelujah. So good. Your Ministry of devotion is an example to all.