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Put your effort in that which lasts forever.

The grass withers, the flower fades; nothing lasts except the word of our God. It will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 (VOICE)

Forlorn is the word that came to mind as we traveled in Crete.

Half built houses lined the road. The lower floors had been constructed. They stood dull and lifeless—grey blocks with gaping holes where windows and doors should have been placed.

Metal rods protruded from the top of the blocks, pointing up towards the blue sky—waiting in anticipation for the next floor to be built, yet never came.

Abandoned years ago, tall weeds now took over the building sites.

Our taxi driver, who worked two other jobs to scrape a living, drove us from the port of Heraklion to the ancient ruins of Knossos.

Knossos is a reminder Crete was not always in economic decline.

The palace once stood proudly as an example of Crete’s flourishing Minoan civilization, which began around the time of the life of Abraham and reached its peak in 1600BC.

As I admired the brightly colored frescos and deep red painted columns, I realized Knossos was once a place of vibrant beauty and immense wealth.

Yet, suddenly the civilization came to an end. Historians speculate over the reason for the civilization’s demise. Did the Minoans ever believe their empire would come to an end?

As I stood among the ruins, I couldn’t help think about the futility of the human effort to invest in temporal things.

I considered our own great nations—the United States of America, Great Britain, the European Union. It seems impossible they will ever decline. I’m sure the Minoans felt the same way.

The grass withers, the flower fades.

I pondered these thoughts as I walked along the High Line in NYC a few days ago. I had been in the same place in the summer. Then the flowers were spectacular. I didn’t think about the coming fall or winter; how the plants would die. Yet, now their colorful heads had gone. Leaves had turned brown. The foliage had shrunk back to expose the brown earth.

Scripture likens these changes in nature to nations and empires.

No realm, regardless of its strength, can last forever. Only the Word of God is imperishable.

Yet, often, we build and furnish our own palaces as if they are the most important thing in the world.

I’ve been reminded of this since we set up home in New York City. We moved into a fully furnished rented apartment near Union Square. The contents of the house sit in a warehouse in Massachusetts.

Suddenly our assets have become a liability, paid to collect dust each month.

Some items hold dear and precious memories—antiques passed down through generations, photographs of family members, artwork created by my children. Yet, these will fade.

So, I have to think, isn’t it better to put my efforts into building up that which has eternal value?

Following God’s commands, holding onto his promises, and teaching them to those we love are worth investing in because then we are building a permanent home.

READ

Isaiah 40:6-8

Titus 1:5

REFLECT

Have you ever invested time and energy in something that faded?  How did that make you feel about your investment?

Are there things left unfinished in your life that need to be put in order so they will last?

RESPOND

Share one area where you are building up something with eternal value.

What is one new thing you would like to focus on that will last?

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Linking up with Crystal Storms at #HeartEncouragement, Dawn Klinge at #GraceandTruth and Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus

 

  • So vividly described, Rachel. Thank you! Have you ever read Francis Schaeffer’s “How Then Should We Live?” He walks through the rise and fall of nations throughout history, pointing to God’s timelessness and consistency throughout. You might enjoy it in light of this thought-provoking message you’re sharing : )

  • It is so interesting to see these places and let the Bible be a history book. Too many people think it’s just a story book.

  • This is so important to remember. As you say, everything we can see seems to be so permanent but in reality it is only temporary. It is important to keep our focus on what is really important and eternal.

  • Rachel,
    I find myself working two ends of the spectrum…on one hand I am purging and giving away “stuff” that clutters my life. It really has no lasting value. Yes, some things have sentimental value, but other things are merely stuff that I can’t take with me when I go. On the other hand, I feel energized in doing Kingdom work by supporting schools in the Middle East that are bringing light to a very dark corner of the world. The way things are in our world right now, people are looking and searching. The time is right and ripe to introduce them to the Gospel. This eternal work is really where my heart is right now!! Email me your address in NYC if that’s where you’re going to be for awhile??
    Blessings,
    Bev

  • “Following God’s commands, holding onto his promises, and teaching them to those we love are worth investing in” love this-such great reminder how all things here are temporary. Thanks Rachel!

  • I love the Mediterranean Islands! I have a piece of Corfu in my knee (moped accident). When I was there, I don’t think I appreciated enough the efforts of the ancients to build a lasting civilization (and being young, I was more concerned with my outward appearances and accumulations). Now I understand the importance of building for eternity.

  • Beautifully written Rachel. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I look to the future. Making an eternal difference is what really matters. Thank you. (Love to think of you walking the high line instead of the track ;)) x

  • Rachel, your writing is true & clear. I agree and feel it on a deep level. We lost much in the past and what little we did have left was paid in storage as well. Some of that was broken into and stolen, including my weddings dress, our wedding album and many our children’s pictures. They took the one huge tote that had the heart strings attached. It took a long while for me to let go and forgive in the deep place where no one else see’s but me and God. We have also learned to not let things hold us dear, but to hold each other dear in other life situations that seemed to drag on forever, hard as they were -but ended up teaching us valuable truths that remain. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I think this was my favorite piece I have read in a long while. I am investing in my children right now. This young time is vital and they are like sponges. I am investing in my marriage too. I actually did have to do major re-prioritizing last year because I was putting serving others and ministry before my own family (though it was with “good intentions” at the time.) Prayers + Blessings!

  • Empires will fade away. My daughter recently learned about empires in her humanities class. I found it interesting that her instructors said that an empire is anything that has power over you…but comforting to know that one day all of those empires will come to an end and fade away. Thanks for sharing on Grace and Truth this week.

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