“Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” Oliver Wendall Holmes
I strongly dislike the way that this quote has been taken out of context and used and abused over the years. I don’t profess to know much about the man who made it famous, but I do know this: he used it in a specific context that held value at the time and over the years it has been applied as some kind of reason to “help along” the efforts to keep followers after Christ from living with an eternal perspective in mind.
I get it ~ we need to be able to relate to others just as Jesus shows us how to do. That’s not the point that bothers me in any way, shape or form.
It’s the way that this quote has been applied like a blanket to ALL Christians whose minds are filled with Jesus ~ with listening to Him, being distracted at times from the things of this earth, and tuning in to the voice that many don’t wish to listen to.
But oh…how tempting and taunting it is to believe it about ourselves at times. That thought – that little nagging thought that maybe we are no good here if all we think about is Jesus.
Today, like many other days over the past year or two, I felt like I am probably perceived sometimes as one of the people Mr. Holmes speaks of in this quote of his.
I’ll even admit it: sometimes I even wonder if this might be sort of true at times.
But I know better. It just doesn’t feel that way at times.
Isn’t that one of the ways that the evil one works, friends? He takes a degree of truth and then perverts it. He makes it popular to twist it. He takes it out of context but never so much that the degree of truth to it disappears completely.
That’s why the mind is a battlefield, friends.
He is an ugly thing.
As I did various normal things throughout this day, I realized that I (once again) feel like I am only really half here, if even half at all. I am struck by the realness of how surreal everything seems. I see it as its happening ~ in real time ~ and it used to really freak me out.
I sat in my car and took time to breathe during my meager little lunch hour and think to myself..is this all for real? There are people dying right now…people hurting…and I am sitting here eating my Baked Lays. How can this be where you want for me to be right now, Lord?
In some ways, I feel like a character out of The Matrix ~ kinda sorta. It’s a trip.
After lunch I moved back into my work mode and talked with people all day long. I tried to help them…validate their feelings, make things work out better for them. I care, I really do. But I feel displaced…not fully connected. I know it, and I try to change it. But I just can’t shake it.
I think I’m supposed to be listening right now.
My mind and heart keep going back to what IS real, what IS fully good, listening for His voice. I think of heaven and those who went before me. I think of those who are on their final journey here on earth and about to enter in ~ to be with Him forever.
It’s the place that some think is not for real.
But it’s my real home.
Lest you think I’ve lost my ever-loving mind for good this time, let me take a moment to add, just for the record, that I am more content and peaceful about this strange reality I am walking around in than ever before.
The discontent that does remain is not made up of disturbing feelings that are laden with fear at all. It comes from an outside pulling and pressure to succumb to the “reality” that is man made.
It’s just that I am called to walk in this body, this place, and sometimes I just don’t quite know how while still setting my eyes upon Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus!
It’s just that sly little whisper, friends ~ the one that things like the quote above likes to taunt us with ~ the one that tries to drown out the voice of peace and joy, truth and reason, love and true connection.
The one that says, you don’t appreciate the life you’ve been given here enough by longing for Jesus to come back and take you and those you love to heaven.
But it’s not working. I am so thankful that it’s not working.
I can enjoy this life and love others while I am here, yet still long for the real one ~ the best one ~ the permanent one. Sometimes I struggle ~ but that’s because of the taunting.
And I know it.
And so, the beauty of the strange continued after work as I stopped by my favorite store to pick up the new rustic log-candle-holder that I had wished for to place upon my mantle. I knew the sale was ready for me and happily moved towards the lovely place where I could find something that would be joyful to gaze upon as my family sits around the fireplace.
We are doing that more now that the kids are older ~ sitting together and hanging out as a family.
After picking up my favored log, I wandered to feast my eyes upon the other lovelies throughout the rest of the store. This is fun, I thought. No holiday shoppers, no hustle and bustle, and no squirming to try to find more, more, more to spend money on today. Just a beautiful sense of contentment that I was blessed enough to take a small portion of my earnings and purchase something special, and time to wander a bit and enjoy. Fun.
But I was still disconnected from the things going on around me in the store.
I felt like I was watching a movie again.
It’s strange how we can feel like we are walking around doing such a normal kind of thing ~we humans ~ yet know that we aren’t really and truly home. We can be immersed in the special moment we are having while still realizing that we are foreigners in an alien and temporary land.
We long for home.
The fun little log is something small that will bring a fun and light kind of joy to my household, but this house and this life is not our true and eternal home.
Am I too heavenly minded?, I asked myself as I wandered through the store and got into the car to make my way home to my beautiful little family.
“No, dear one”, I heard inside. “This is a part of it all. I am going to teach you more and more, I promise.”
There was a time that I was concerned about myself for being in a place of quite the opposite of looking forward to heaven. And oh, how much earthly good I thought I was doing back then! Ha Ha!
It is nothing more than an absolute compliment if folks start to wonder if you fit quotes such as these. The “good” we should be seeking is not merely found in this earthly life, but an eternal good and one that brings glory to Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Part of that also comes in learning how to be grateful and love the things we can do to glorify Christ while we are here.
Without caving in and living for this world.
And part of it comes from accepting the gift (and not the curse) that it is to be somewhat “spaced out” when we are truly relating with our Savior instead of thinking about our lunch.
At the end of the day, that candle holding log for the mantle will end up in a trash bin somewhere. The Baked Lays will be long gone. They will have brought fun, joy and served a decent purpose for us, but will not be coming along with us in the end.
And so it’s good ~ it’s good that they didn’t receive my full attention anyway.
But how I felt moving through that store today ~ how I felt during my little strange lunch break when I pressed into the Lord and asked Him…”how do I continue to move through this life, this superficiality, this stuff that so often tries to distract us from what IS real, what IS lasting? How Lord? That feeling and that crying out for His guidance is what makes me know that I am truly connected to the right thing.
Maybe sometimes I am so lost in my prayers and thoughts and conversations with the Lord that I struggle or grasp for focus in regard to my earthly tasks and duties.
I’m choosing to be okay with that.
There might be times that I seem zoned out, lost, distracted, but most of those moments are ones in which I am listening intently to another voice ~ one that is more important than the task at hand.
I’m choosing to be okay with that.
I may not meet every goal or go after every accomplishment with single-minded focus and clarity and commitment any longer as my mind is elsewhere half the time.
But I’m good with that one too (although I have to fight feelings about it – a lot).
I may be “too heavenly minded” for some ~ even myself at times ~ but that is most definitely GOOD.
There are times when the world wins for a while and takes more of my focus than it should be allowed to. Those are the ones I will give my attention to, because I am done feeling guilty about days like today.
It’s the days in which I am too focused on earthly good that I am going to be concerned about (if it’s taking me away from Jesus).
Do you find yourself struggling at times with moving through the day-to-day and appreciating it, yet at the same time, feeling as though your focus is being outright forced to be split? Do you wish for times in which you could just choose one or the other to make it a bit easier? Do you know that it is a blessing to be in communion and fellowship and prayer with the Lord all day long, even when it “gets in the way” of helping you truly put your full attention into the task at hand?
See it for the gift that it is.
Choose to be okay ~ even good with that!
I think a lot of how to walk like Jesus did comes down to this, friends: I think it comes down to accepting that we are aliens here, but we are also called to love others here. We are called to work hard, be good stewards of our time and money, to focus upon loving and helping others, and to do what we say we will do.
But more than anything else, we are called to be heavenly minded. And if that gets in the way sometimes of creating earthly good, so be it.
“Set your mind on things above; not on the things that are on earth.” Col 3:2
Faithfully serve the Lord ~ continue to relate to and love upon others.
God values our faithfulness in the little things, friends. If our focus seems split or we seem distracted by something we have to do, but its because we are praying or seeking the Lord about something else, we should listen ~ listen for the Holy Spirit for guidance. He will equip us to get back to the task at hand when the time is right.
It is part of our own affliction, friends. It is also a gift from the Lord ~ this life.
Part of what is perishing as we walk through this earthly life we have been given is not just our bodies, but our focus ~ our attachment to this world ~ our connection to the earth.
There’s gonna be some struggle involved with that whole deal.
Go to that space. That space with the Lord in which you are NOT lost, but found. Choose to be good with that. Choose to embrace that space. Hold onto it with all you have. Ask for His power and strength to do it.
Most of all, take heart if this is something you struggle with, friends. What seems like a disconnect or a movie, is actually something that is drawing you even closer to HIM.
And that is Good ~
That is earthly and heavenly GOOD.
“We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Cor 4:16-17