• Kate Clinton

Eyes On the Prize

When we sold our house in a subdivision and started our journey to our dream home in the country, we had about 10 ½ months where we needed to find a place to call home. We both grew up in the country in beautiful Pennsylvania. Rolling hills and freedom were in our blood. We wanted our kids to be able to grow up the same way, Virginia style. Catching crayfish in the stream. Running on land that is yours until you're out of breath. Carefully peeling a milkweed pod until you hold the beautiful white, sticky fluff. Stars unhindered by city lights. Chores that taught responsibility. Owning animals. The land was bought. The house was picked out. But, where do we live until it's done?

Our builder owned numerous apartment complexes around town. He offered us one that we didn't have to sign a one year lease on. The idea sounded good on paper. It was only 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, but we had stars in our eyes. We could survive that for a short time, right? So, we stuffed almost everything we had into storage units around town and moved into the tiny first floor apartment. We were lucky enough to have the stomach bug go through our family while we adjusted to 2 bathrooms. For the six of us. With the stomach bug. We slept on mattresses without a frame. The kids were doubled up in bedrooms. I had dreams of us getting really close as a family, playing board games and patiently waiting for one of the two bathrooms without a fuss.

After about a week, it had already begun to loose it's luster. The oven wasn't even close to the temperature that I set it too. I was burning food all the time. Me. A good cook. The kitchen cabinets were so shallow that you couldn't fit a box of cereal in them. I hate clutter and we had food everywhere in that small kitchen. Our table was beside the washer and dryer. It become the laundry catch all, leaving little room for eating and homework. The kids didn't smile and share rooms in a lovely manor like I had dreamed. Beds without frames make your back ache. Everyone was always yelling they needed to use the bathroom except “so and so” was already in there. We ended up eating out way too much because the kitchen was impossible. We became regulars at the greasy spoon diner that was right next door. The kids had way too much fried bologna, cheesy westerns (cheeseburgers with fried egg on top) and fries. We had a first name relationship with the local pizza joint there, too. I hate to admit it, but it was pretty convenient at midnight when you really wanted a snack. You could just roll out of bed, take 8 steps to the greasy spoon joint, which was open 24 hours, grab some onion rings and be back in bed before you knew it.

Did I mention this apartment complex was mainly home to college students? Partying college students. Loud college students. College students that kept running into your SUV in the parking lot with their car. And, while the first floor apartment was easy to carry groceries into, it also meant you heard everything above you. We are pretty sure the girls right above us rode donkeys that wore clogs and liked to randomly throw bowling balls. That's what it sounded like, any way. The boys to the top right really liked to party, dance and play music at all hours of the night. The parties would get so loud that the two kids trying to sleep under that apartment would actually end up in tears. My husband, a tall, very muscular guy, tried to solve the problem on his own one night. He went upstairs and asked the boys to quiet down at about 2 am. He explained we were a family with four little kids. You would have thought those boys would have respected a man that could have beat them to a pulp. But, they didn't. When they shut the door, they turned UP the music! So, the local police became our friends. And, those college boys were smart enough to figure out which neighbor was the tattle tale on their parties, so they took to randomly ringing our door bell at all hours of the night. On one particularly stressful day, I went out on the “patio” to get some “fresh air”. It was a beautiful day with gorgeous blue skies. That's why it was so weird that it appeared to be raining. Then, I smelled it. It was beer. From 5 stories up. They were dumping out enough beer for me to think it was raining. And just when we thought it couldn't get any weirder, we found a homeless guy living directly behind us in the storage units that the apartment complex offered to it's tenants. Right behind our children's bedroom. The day I noticed him, I called the police. The police knocked on our little apartment door and told us there was nothing they could do. He had paid to rent the storage unit. We would have to let the owner of the complex figure it out. And, before they left for the night, they let us know that the man had a mental illness. The homeless man, right beside my kids ground floor hall window, that couldn't be kicked out because he paid 40.00 for the unit, and had a mental illness, would be spending the night right by us. That was just great. How are we going to survive this? Oh wait, it isn't forever. Eyes on the prize.

What was 10 ½ months at the apartment compared to 30 + years at our country dream home? We could survive the annoyances and discomforts because we knew what was coming after a short time. We could see the house being built. We could walk the land that we would soon live on. We had a blueprint and we were actively making choices that kept our focus on the build. A trip to the paint store was a reminder that apartment life would be short. We knew our future in that home was worth the temporary troubles of the apartment.

Isn't that what Christian life should be like? What is 70+ years on this earth compared to forever in eternity? Shouldn't we be able to handle the ups and downs of this human life on this sinful earth because we know where we are going through the saving grace of Jesus? God has given us a blueprint for our salvation, the Bible. He gives us ways to deal with difficulty here on earth, even ways to manage our money and our homes. And, He has given us instructions on THE ONLY way to spend eternity with Him in Heaven, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Put to death on a cross. Raised from the dead. Death was defeated. Sins were removed. And we have a hope. A reason to survive this life on Earth. We will be going Home to our Savior, to a place more beautiful than any human mind can imagine. Eyes on the prize. This isn't all it is, folks. We can live this earthly life in victory and be certain of our future through Jesus Christ.

John 14:2-4 2 “My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you , I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going”.

Colossians 3:1-2 “1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your Mind on things above, not on earthly things”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”.

Have you given Him your life? If the answer is yes, than live as if you know where you are going. Because, if your life is actually given to Jesus Christ, you know where you are going. These temporary troubles of earth will pass. They will seem small in the face of eternity. 2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV tells us, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”. And, for those of you that are not sure where you are headed when your time on Earth is over, I will once again remind you of John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”. You've heard it quoted all over the place. You've seen it on signs at football games. But, have you read it until you understood it? You will spend eternity in one of two place. Heaven or Hell. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Don't put off a decision. Be sure of where you are going. Live this life with confidence that you know where you going. Or, make the choice today to trust in Jesus to secure your place in heaven.

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