How do we keep the affairs of this life in check? How do we hold to the godly priority which the Apostle Paul gives us in Romans, chapter 2, where he says, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
How can we insure that our immersion in this physical / material world will not rob us of the "pilgrimage" attitude that the Hebrew writer speaks of regarding people of faith when he says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland."
How can we be sure that the divine imperative of Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." will not fade under the long abrasions of a busy life which demands so much?
Well, there are ways. There are some that you would probably expect me to mention: staying in the Word, the good habit of going to "the Garden," and remaining involve in the Church. But beyond those, I think one of the most effective ways to stay motivated in Christ is occasionally to remind ourselves of what is really at stake in this life and the seriousness of the appointment that lies ahead for each one of us.
Most of us realize that what is at stake in the ultimate outcome of our own personal story is our eternal soul. Obviously, a pretty serious exposure. So, we must not "mess this up." We must not mess it up with stupidity, with ignorance, with laziness, or with bad theology.
We must not insulate ourselves. We must not kid ourselves. We must not delude ourselves with a bunch of half-baked, cobbled together, "sounds good" religious clichés. And we must not be distracted by the siren song of the material attractions that are all around us. So, it is strengthening to refocus occasionally on the importance of how our personal story will end and to remind ourselves that we are really only here to write that ending.
So, regarding these things, here is what we know. We know (at least some in our species do) that God has given us a revelation of redemptive truth in Jesus Christ. He has taken a long time and extended great care to show us the correct redemptive path. But, we also know that the true path has become shrouded in confusion.
For various silly reasons and motives we interpret the redemptive truth differently. Add to that the adversary's half truths and outright lies that have been inserted into the mix of human thought, and honestly, it's no wonder so many have trouble finding their way.
Nevertheless, a large part of the responsibility for sorting out this informational mess remains "on us." It is up to us to decide our way through the fog of ambiguous religion, and worldly philosophies, and our own demanding "druthers." The decision to reject or embrace an idea, to choose a devotion in life, or to set priorities is ultimately ours. While the Holy Spirit constantly whispers guiding truth to each of us, in the final analysis, it is our responsibility to choose His truth as genuine from among all of the counterfeit information that is out there and respond accordingly.
If, indeed, we fail in this "vetting task," if we sort it all out poorly so that we get it wrong somehow, it will result in an absolute disaster at the end. In fact, no disaster can possibly be more absolute than the wreck of a human soul.
In that case, we will be plunged into an abyss of unimaginable suffering. And worse yet, that suffering will never end. The crushing atmosphere of complete hopelessness will surround us. And we will forever, forever become one of the nameless, faceless millions in a churning, screaming sea of failed humanity, all victims of their own "bad call" in this life.
There are a lot of distractions in this life that would take our time and energies away from what is truly important. There is a lot of bad information that passes itself off as truth to steer us in the wrong direction. And, there are a lot of people who don't much care either way. But I suspect, in that final, irreversible hour they will care.
And I suspect that in the final confirmation when we stand on that "forever brink," the burning questions will not revolve around money or hobbies or jobs or other material issues and pursuits. Rather, there will be questions of personal investment, questions of quality and degree, and questions of personal direction and choices. But, in that last terrifying hour of the divine appointment, there will no longer be any power to improve our answers, and thus, our end.
In this life, we are really engaged in only one endeavor that truly matters. It is to effect, by our choices and actions, a successful conclusion to our personal story. True, that ending lies beyond death in the long reaches of eternity, but we are, in fact, writing it now. And it will either be a happy and fulfilling outcome based in a correct personal response to God's authentic truth; or, it will be a sad, mostly unknown ending.
So, it is important never to move very far from the awareness that you are writing your own story and that it is forever. Please, sort life carefully. And never forget, it's really all about the ending.