Living in the Land of Then
What you’ve never heard of the Land of Then? That’s because I just made it up (well, at least I think I did). I was thinking about writing this post and Harry Chapin’s song Cat’s in the Cradle came to mind.
Here are the words to the chorus:
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home, Dad
I don't know when, but we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then
If you not familiar with the story of the song, I’ll give you a quick overview. Cat’s in the Cradle is a story about a father who has a son. He is too busy catching planes and paying bills to be there for the birth of his son or to watch him learn to walk or play catch with him when hs is ten.
The dad has a standard answer every time the boy wants to do something, We’ll do it then. It was always a time in the future when things would happen, but life continued on and then never happened.
One of the facets of the song is that the son looks up to his dad and says that he wants to be just like him. No matter how many times his dad rushes away, the son still wants to be like dad.
The song takes an interesting switch in the middle. The son is in college and comes home for a visit. The dad wants to spend some time together with him. In reply the son asks for the car keys. Dad asks when they will have time to get together. The son says the same words his dad said to him, “I don't know when, but we’ll get together then. You know we’ll have a good time then.”
As you probably have figured out by now, the son grew up and got his own family and job. He was always too busy to get together. Everything would always happen sometime in the future. It would happen then but it never did.
Where Are You Living?
It is so easy to live in the Land of Then. It happens all of the time. How many times have you thought about how life should be and then uttered the words, “I’ll start _______ tomorrow,” but tomorrow never comes.
I want to apply the truths of this song to our spiritual lives. If you’re like me, you want to grow spiritually. You want to get rid of all the things you know are holding you back. There may even be some invisible barriers that you just can’t put your finger on. You know they are there, but you can’t quite identify them.
Are you like me? Do you sit around and hope that things will be different tomorrow. The situation’s been the same for weeks, months, years, or even decades, yet you hope things will be different then.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the definition of insanity: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I guess Albert Einstein came up with that quote but what does he know? A lot. He knows that in order for things to change something has to change.
If things are going to change, you must do something different. You can’t keep doing what you always done, and expect different results. In order for change to take place you need to know where you are going and how you are going to get there.
Where Are You Going?
Can you imagine a dad gathering his family together and saying, “Come on everyone. Get in the car. We are going on vacation.”?
Everyone’s filled with excitement. “Great, when are we going?” asks the kids.
“Right now,” says dad. “Get in the car.”
“But, we aren’t packed. We’re not ready.”
“Don’t worry about that,” says dad, “just get in the car.”
Mom and the kids look at each other shaking their heads back and forth, but head for the car
Pulling out of the driveway dad says, “I don’t know. I just thought we would jump in the car and see where we would end up.” Smiling, he said, “Isn’t this great?”
I know, kind of a silly story, but isn’t that what we do. We determine that something needs to change in our lives and then rush off to change without thinking it through. We have no destination. We have no plan to get there.
What is Your Destination?
In order to grow spiritually, you must know what the end result is. What are you trying to accomplish? What will you be like when we reach maturity?
The great news is that God has shown us the end result. He sent Jesus Christ to be our example. God’s destination for me and you is be transformed into the image of Christ. Our destination is Christlikeness.
If you’ve come to Christ, then you are a child of God. You don’t strive to become a child of God, you already a child of God. The issue I am talking about is growth and maturity into what God has created you to be. He wants you to grow up to be like Jesus.
The Apostle Peter said, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow in it in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Peter was speaking metaphorically. These people were not physically babies, but some may have been spiritual babies.
The Bible does speak about people being born again representing a baby coming into the world. There are passages that speak about little children, young men and women, and mothers and fathers in the faith. Spiritual growth is not an event it is a journey.
There is a clear path of spiritual growth that you can expect for your life. Your ultimate goal is to grow up spiritually and be like Jesus. As a baby, you may carry a lot of baggage and make a mess from time to time. As you grow, things begin to change and you begin to become more and more like Jesus. This is definitely a life-long journey.
What is Your Plan?
It’s been said that if you don't plan your own life, someone will plan it for you. The devil has a plan for your life. It includes stealing, killing, and destroying. The world has a plan for your life. It includes the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Others may have a plan for your life. You may have a plan for your life.
The good news is that God has a plan for your life. It includes:
- the forgiveness of sin
- reconciliation with God
- a transfer from Satan's kingdom to God’s kingdom
- adoption into God’s family
- inward peace and joy,
- abundant life
- the fruit of the Spirit
- the gifts of the Spirit
- eternal life.
The plan you chose to follow will determine your results. The interesting thing is that God gives you a choice in the matter. You can choose what plan you follow. I highly suggest that you choose God’s plan.
If you want be experiencing His victory on a regular basis, you must do it His way. God’s plan is the only one that works. When the Lord asks you to do something, make it your habit
Here are some great Scriptures to think about:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. (Proverbs 4:18)
Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)
You Need Others on the Journey
God does not intend for you to be alone on this journey. He wants you to join others to walk with you along the way.
Just think of the different ways that the Bible describes the people of God. We are called the family of God, pictured as an army, seen as a flock of sheep, and described as living stones being built together into a place of worship for God.
Did you notice the theme in each of these descriptions? Each one describes groups. There is not a family of one. There is not an army of one. There is not a flock of one. There is not a temple built with one stone. Each idea pictures a community.
An important part of growing spiritually is to be part of a local congregation. The church is God’s idea. Jesus said He would build His church. Paul tells us not to forsake the gathering together of the believers as some people do (he's talking about church).
Be part of a body of believers that is seeking after God. Go there to be encouraged and to be an encouragement to others. Ephesians 4:16 tells us that we can only grow as we all come together and do our part. Paul says:
From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint
One of the myths of American Christianity is that our walk with God is seen as something personal and private. It is all about me and God. It pictures Christians as lone rangers, who are self-sufficient and in need of no one else when it comes to their relationship with God. The problem with this is that it does not line up with God’s word.
When you are born again, you become part of the family of God. When you are baptized, you are baptized into the body of Christ. You become part of something bigger than yourself and God has a place for you in His body.
If you are part of a local church, I want to encourage you to seek God for ways that you can serve the church (the people). In serving others you will grow personally and help others grow too. It’s a win-win situation.
If you are not part of a local church, I want to encourage you to find one and become an active part. Look for one where people are seeking to grow in their relationship with God. Do it because you know it is part of God’s plan.
Join Us on the Journey
I believe there is no substitute for the local church. That’s the reason I wanted to talk to you about it before I asked you to consider making Experiencing His Victory a part of your journey. Experiencing His Victory or any other source of internet nurture can never take the place of a local congregation.
With that said, I want to encourage you to join us on a journey of spiritual growth. The things that are offered on this site are not quick fixes. There no “magical” article that will fix everything in your life in a moment.
It has been said that a journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step. Oh how true that statement is. If we don’t take the first step, nothing will ever take place in our lives. But just as true, if we don’t take each and every step after that, we’ll never reach our destination.
Every step in the journey is important. They move us toward the destination. Even if we make some missteps, we can always realign ourselves to the destination and continue moving one step at a time.
The materials presented on this site will not get you to your destination in the blink of an eye like being transported in a Star Trek movie. By the way, that is how I wish things happened. I believe that they will help you take a step and then another step and then another.
Remember that you are on a journey. Don’t be so consumed with the destination that you forget to enjoy the journey. Rejoice in every step forward. Recognize that the small choices you make today will have a big impact on your life in the future.
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I want to leave you with a great quote. In order to do so I have to change the metaphor of a journey by walking to a journey by sailing.
To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor. ― Oliver Wendell Holmes