On July 8, 1974, Chuck Colson went to prison.
Only a couple years before he had been chief counsel on the Nixon White House staff. He was nearing his 44th birthday when he went to prison for his involvement in Watergate. On January 31, 1975 he was released after serving seven months. “When I arrived in prison, my caseworker told me, ‘Just settle in, accept it. This is where you live now. Don’t think about your home.'”
But Colson refused to settle in and accept it. He lived every day as if prison was not his home.
“I drove myself to work as hard as I could. My entire day was consumed with writing, studying, doing my job in prison laundry, and exercising, and helping other inmates. I seldom allowed myself any recreation. More than anything else, I feared doing nothing.”
The New Testament calls believers strangers, exiles, and sojourners.
I’ve never been exiled, but have done some minor sojourning – traveled to a few other countries. By the end of my short stays I’d be itching to get back home. Once I went to Mexico for a week and I couldn’t wait to get back to the US so I could get a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I spent another week in a nation with few good roads and the craziest drivers – there didn’t seem to be any laws, though I’m sure there were – at one point I just had to stop looking (I wasn’t driving). I was so happy to get back to normal traffic and stoplights and speed limits and nice highways. But what I always miss most when I travel is my wife and family and friends and my own little home. There’s something so comforting about coming back to your own home.
Strangers, exiles, sojourners. This world is not our home. This life is not our final destination. We have deep inside us a longing for our true home, heaven, where we will be with Jesus forever. Sojourners don’t plan on staying where they are. Chuck Colson didn’t plan on staying in prison so he refused to settle in.
I believe Randy Alcorn illustrated this by saying if you lived in the South during the Civil War and you could see that soon the South would be defeated you wouldn’t stockpile as much Confederate currency as you could, for any day it would be worthless. Any day now, the things we work so hard for and spend so much time maintaining are going to be worthless, like Confederate dollars.
But God is keeping an eternal glorious inheritance in heaven for us. 1 Peter 1:4 says God guards “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.”
Ultimately our inheritance is Jesus and the riches in him. We’ll enjoy this inheritance for ever and ever. The things of this world tarnish, fade, break and rot but God’s inheritance will be as delightful 10,000 years from now as it will be the day we receive it.
May we live for that imperishable and unfading reward!
Carry on exiles! Your sojourn is almost over.