There is a delightful bar-b-que restaurant nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in East Ellijay, Georgia. The restaurant is called Poole’s Bar-B-Q. Oscar and Edna Poole began their business in 1987. They became famous by placing pig cutouts on the hill out back. The cutouts, numbering now over 3000, depict the names of satisfied customers. Colonel Poole's Pig Hill of Fame has many famous people who have their names on the hill. Presidential candidates, sports heroes, and even actors have their names on the hill, as well as everyday people. Many people come to enjoy the food and read the names of those on the hill.
God has given us a hill of fame in Hebrews chapter 11. Names on that list include Abel, Enoch, and Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well as Joseph, Moses, and his parents. They along with others are listed here as an encouragement for us. These heroes of the faith endured unbelievable difficulties because of their undiminished faith in God. They stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens (Heb. 11:34). Yet others suffered mocking, and scourging, chains and imprisonment. Some of these heroes lost their lives through stoning, beheading, and even being sawn in two because of their faith in God.
What a hill of fame God gives us to encourage us to continue to be faithful to Him. I personally reap a great benefit from these heroes. However I have some others that I know personally who I have place on my personal hill of fame. People who are remaining faithful to God in spite of unbelievable problems in their lives. Some on this hill are suffering persecution, some have the task of taking care of a sick family member, some people on my list have an incurable disease but are still clinging to the unshakable promises of God.
You don’t have to drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains to find a hill of fame. Look around at those believers around you who are standing strong. Follow the example of their faith.
Perhaps you may remember an old television program that starred Roma Downey and Della Reece. It was an uplifting program that attempted to picture the work of angels among us. The program was called “Touched by an Angel”.
As I read the Bible I find many occurrences of God’s angels interacting with people. On one such instance God sent two angels to the City of Sodom. Their purpose was to rescue Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family. God was going to destroy the city because of its incredible wickedness. Genesis 19:15,16 tells us: “When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. You could well say that Lot was “touched by an angel”. More accurately, he was “dragged by an angel”. Just as God delivered Lot out of that terrible city our Lord often will intervene in our lives when we are facing dangerous situations. Some of those dangerous situations occur when we chose to get off the narrow path, when we flirt with temptation or get involved in sinful activity. When we pitch our tent in Sodom God will often warn us to get out. Our Lord loves His children so much that He will often specially intervene in such situations. Hebrews 13:6 reminds us: “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives”.
It may be through the counsel of a godly friend or through a sermon in church or on the radio. God may use the still small voice of His Spirit speaking to us or the loud thunder of a tragedy to get our attention. Aren’t you glad that you have a loving God who cares for you so much that He will send reinforcements to get you out of sin? Being “dragged by an angel” is a reminder of the love of your Father.
Preparing for a trip can be a huge undertaking. Determining what you may need and trying to be sure not to leave anything behind can get difficult. I had to make a trip recently that involved booking a flight. I purposely left behind many things I could have taken but was determined only to take things I really needed. A change of clothes and something to read on the plane was all that I put in my backpack. I made a purposeful decision to pack light.
Packing light is a phrase that should apply to our short time on this earth. The Bible describes our life in this world as a journey not a permanent occupation. Peter tells us: “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1Pet. 2:11). Paul describes believers in Phil. 3:20 with these words: For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. Our real home is in heaven. We are only passing through this world for a short journey. Our real citizenship is in heaven. We are aliens here and don’t even have green cards.
Since we are just spending a short time in this world we should be packing light. We shouldn’t load ourselves down with all of the stuff of this world. We can spend a whole lifetime occupied with achieving, acquiring, and consuming all that we can, or we can pack light. Our minds can be so disturbed by the things that are happening in this world. Our energy can be spent in running around trying to fill our backpacks with more and more. Jesus spoke about this by telling us not to store up treasure on earth but to store up treasure in heaven. We should put in our backpack only those things that we will be able to take with us to heaven. We can fill it with energetic service for Christ, building redemptive relationships, and investing our resources into the kingdom of God.
One day our time on this journey will be over and we will be called to go back home. Be sure you are ready and remember to pack light.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation