When we first moved to the Monterey Bay Academy campus, we lived in former military barracks. Erected in 1938, they weren’t built to last. Yet there we were, seventy years after their construction, with our moving van pulling up to a long narrow building that had once housed soldiers during World War II.
What 904A Monterey Drive lacked in style, it more than made up for in scenery. Our living room picture window proudly displayed a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. Some afternoons, when the sun sparkled on the waves, the glints of light were so bright, we’d say, “The diamonds are out today!” And the sunsets . . . oh, the sunsets! “We live in a $100 shack with a $100 million view!” we often joked. The beauty before us made it easy to forget not only the austerity of our home, but also its original purpose.
Talking with the “old timers” on campus, we learned that during the war, our entire building had been the infirmary, and Daniel’s office had served as the surgery suite. During that first year, we were constantly surprised to encounter such remainders from the war, both in our home and when out and about the campus. But as the years passed, we got used to seeing huge bunker doors rising up in the midst of organic strawberry fields. The enormous rusted gun turret base cemented into the bluff was merely part of our walkway as we strolled down to the beach.
It was hard to imagine that the same horizon we viewed through our living room window had once been scrutinized by members of the 250th Coast Artillery Regiment for signs of the enemy. And yet, despite the glory of golden sunsets and the percussion of crashing waves, the fact remained: We lived in a place built for war.
In our everyday lives, we each battle a similar dichotomy: the contrast between the ideal and the real. Ecclesiastes 3:11 expresses the paradoxical tension we live in this way: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.” You and I live with dual citizenship: Even as our bodies remain earthbound, our spirits echo with the heartbeat of heaven. So on the one hand, we sing “How Great Thou Art.” On the other, we acknowledge “This World Is Not My Home.”
It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to bring heaven closer to earth, only to feel defeated when it never quite works. We carefully curate our homes, choosing every decoration precisely. But a lack of peace intrudes on our daily lives just the same. We throw ourselves into a new self-improvement plan, certain that This is the one! But sooner or later, the same old sense of disappointment beats us down again. We strategize how to “help” our people live up to the potential we just know they have within them. But in the end, they feel invaded while we feel unappreciated.
It’s hard living on a broken planet when your heart is set for heaven. And if there’s anyone who truly understands this struggle, it’s Jesus. He knows what we’re going through because He left the ideal: heaven. He came down to the real: earth. And He lived among us as a dual citizen Himself.
So His words “In this world you will have trouble” are zero percent theory, 100 percent reality. But they’re not some pessimistic “truth bomb” meant to make us stop being starry-eyed idealists and start being joyless realists. They’re actually protection from pessimism. And then Jesus follows up His statement of what’s real with an assurance that reaches beyond our grandest ideal: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Amidst the daily reminders that we live in a world still at war, we have the promise of peace in Him. We have Jesus Himself, our eternal source of peace.
The above excerpt is from An Abundant Place, a new devotional by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory. Are you overcommitted, overstressed, or just plain overwhelmed? These devotions will give you greater peace and perspective, and a plan for managing your busy life. Discover a place of more joy and abundance, one devotion at a time.