Richard Baxter was an amazing teacher of England in the 1600s. A Puritan, he was imprisoned for sharing the Word of God –even when it contradicted the Church of England. During his entire adult life he battled various sicknesses without pause. He suffered from a constant cough, frequent nosebleeds, migraine headaches, stomach problems, kidney and gall stones. He believed that God heals, and claimed that several times he was restored to Kingdom work by God's healing hand. Once a cancerous tumor in his throat disappeared during a sermon he was delivering about God's mercy to him. He suffered continuously from diseases until his very last life breath claiming that he seldom had an hour without pain.
Yet Baxter’s constant suffering gave him an incredible awareness of how temporary life is in this world and made him continuously conscious of the better life beyond the grave promised by Christ. Baxter often spent time in the Word of God -lead by the Spirit to focus on the joys of Heaven and the Age to come. His constant thought and preoccupation the future Hope of Glory. He wrote much of this eternal hope in preparation for leaving this world. He began to record his thoughts for people of all ages to enjoy and claimed that while writing his thoughts, he actually recovered from a disease. His thoughts became one of his greatest inspiring works known as “The Saints' Everlasting Rest.” He prayed and pondered the glory of heaven for half an hour each day and rejoiced over the powerful impact it had on his life. He pleaded with his readers to commit themselves in devotion to God and find the Consuming Fire that brings unspeakable joy and peace in this life now. He wrote: “If you want to have light and heat, why would you not be in the sunshine more? If you avoid the benefits of heaven, then your soul is like a lamp not lighted, and your duty is like a sacrifice without fire. Fetch one coal daily from this altar, and see if your offering will not burn… Keep close to this Reviving Fire, and see if your affections will not be warm.”
Serving God is good, but if we do not experience the joy of experiencing God while we serve Him, then it’s easy to loose focus. We have joy in our salvation that is a consuming fire. Serving may make us feel good, but when we serve deliberately seeking to please God as we serve Him, then the power and victory of the resurrection overwhelms us with incredible joy, like a purifying fire that simultaneously consumes us and restores us. Jesus is our LIFE. His life now swallows up our hurts, our pains, our disappointments, our past and our inadequacies. Our God is the God of Mercy. Our existence, now and forever, is GLORY. Paul said:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory,” [Colossians 3:1-4]
Heaven is where we already are. Earth is now where we visit. Heaven is home. This current life is just a road trip, and it’s length is very short. Live life connected to your Home, and enjoy the journey while it lasts. When we enjoy this journey in Christ, others also find their way Home. And Christ, who is our Life, will soon appear and take us all Home!
Sharing the soon-return of Jesus,