As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Mark 13:1-2
This is pretty amazing, when you think about it. Jesus knew what is going to happen in the future. The temple would be destroyed.
And this actually happened, in 70 AD. There was a Jewish uprising, and Rome came down on the Jews in Jerusalem hard, with four legions. There was a terrible siege, where the Jewish people starved, and finally the whole city was razed.
Josephus wrote, “Men and women, old and young, insurgents and priests, those who fought and those who entreated mercy, were hewn down in indiscriminate carnage. The legionaries had to clamber over heaps of dead to carry on the work of extermination. . . [Jerusalem] was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited. . . those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way.”
This was the fate of the city, and the temple the Jewish people put their hope in. It was the end of a way of worship for them. To this day, Jewish people no longer worship at a temple, but in synagogues.
And this was only one of the trials Jesus foretold in Mark 13. He said there would be false prophets, wars, and earthquakes. Disciples would be arrested and tortured, even put to death, for their faith. They would be betrayed by their own family members.
What was Jesus really getting at here? He was telling them to be careful what they put their faith in.
And he was telling them that trials WOULD come. All the things they thought were solid would be shown to be sifting sand. All of the safety they felt would become turmoil. They couldn’t depend on their government, their religious traditions, their loved ones. Even the very ground would be unreliable.
Thus, it was true then, and it is true now, that it is vital to invest in things that LAST, that cannot be shaken. Even though it feels solid, our world is no more stable than the world was then. Tragedy can strike at any moment. Trials WILL come. Change will happen.
Our objective, then, should be to build our lives on things that really are solid. What does this look like practically? Here are some things I do that help me most to have stability for the long term.
- Seek God’s will. Start your day by asking yourself, “Am I doing what I want, or what God wants?” Ask God, “What do you want for me to do today? Please put on my heart what is most important.” SO many times God has answered this prayer for me. I feel so strongly that one of the best Christian principles is, “whoever loses their life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24) The more we do things God’s way instead of our own way, the more effective our life becomes.
- Seek wisdom. Learn God’s word. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isa 40:8. The Word is an instruction manual that helps us build our lives in the right way, so we’re not wasting our time. Any time invested in reading the Bible, memorizing scriptures, is worth it. But remember, wisdom is not just intellectual knowledge. It is knowing how to act. In the parable of the wise man who builds his house upon the rock, his stability comes because he hears Jesus’ words and puts them into practice.
- Invest in your relationship with God. When things fall apart, this is all you will have left, and if you don’t feel like you’re close to God, you’ll flounder. Closeness with God is something you have to foster and maintain. Satan constantly tries to separate us from God with things that consume our time and things that consume our thoughts. Carve out time to really talk to God. Get on your knees and bare your soul to Him. Quiet yourself and listen to Him. Walk with Him through your day. Picture Him smiling as you serve Him. Remind yourself over and over that God is what really matters.
- Remember that Christ died for you, personally. No matter what happens, you have this. Nothing can take it away. God thinks you are so important that He gave his son for you. Jesus thinks you are worth dying for. He went through everything to rescue you, personally. This really is something you can hold onto when everything else in life lets you down. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” II Cor 4:7-10
- Rely on faith, not feelings. We can’t go up and down, depending on what our circumstances are. One week we’re doing well as Christians because things are peachy. The next week, everything falls apart, and we feel weak. We have to remember that God is still the same. He is our anchor. We have to believe that He is a Father whose heart yearns to give us good things, because He’s so fired up for us. Keep believing that better times are coming! Don’t buy into Satan’s lies that everything is going downhill. God got us through the last rough patch, and did amazing things, and He will get us through again, and give us even more! “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” I Peter 5:10
I am writing all of this out of personal need this week. My life feels out of wack. My children are going through some significant challenges and changes. My ears are so stopped up I’m out of it. Inexplicable bad moods plague me.
It feels like the rug’s been pulled out from under me. And it reminds me of how much harder it is to be yourself when things aren’t going as they usually do.
So I keep going back to the basics, losing myself in the comfort of my relationship with God, setting my face forward and believing over and over again that God knows the way through.
Let’s build to LAST! Let’s put God, and Jesus, at the center of every thing we do. It is the only effective way to live.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. I Cor 3:11-13
Let us live with thankfulness, because we have more than the temple of the old covenant, a temple that could be toppled. We have SOLIDITY, if we will only build on that, and not on self. And then when things get shaky, we find His grace is sufficient, and we can hang on, if only for a moment, and then the next, because we KNOW we have something dependable to hold onto.
And here is the really cool thing. When we are still standing, in spite of the storms howling around us, we show the whole world that God is real and powerful. Nothing else can make such an impact. Our faith is real. Christianity works!
Let me quote II Cor. 4 again, starting with the beginning of the passage:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.