A Timely Message From My Baseball Cap Reminds Me To Loosen My Grip On This World
When I’m meeting strangers in a public place for the first time, I’ll often help them recognize me by stating, “I’ll be wearing a black ball cap.” Those who know me well might nod in recognition at the fact that, more often than not, I’m wearing one of the many black caps I possess thanks to some leftover merch from my Christian Indie Artist days.
Created to promote my second album, In Transit, the front of the cap sports a vintage pickup truck while the back says, “This World Is Not My Home.” This familiar Christian sentiment is channeled in a lyric from my song Midnight Train:
“We’re all just souls in transit
We watch as this world passes away…”
The album – and related merchandise – was released in 2004, and I’ve carried this message on my person more days than not since that time. For the past 16 years my black caps and I have seen stock market ups and downs, various virus scares, geopolitical confrontations and all-out wars. Most of the time, however, life has been good. Too good, in fact, to not let complacency, comfort, and familiarity define my relationship with this world. Even my first-world inconveniences seem unjust when for all of human history life for most has been lived with no certainty and a security window that lasted for days or weeks at most.
I don’t think I’m alone. Unforeseen interruptions to our daily lives too often come as shocks to our system rather than anticipated occurrences in a world hurtling toward a chaotic end. Jesus has given us ample warning of what we should expect in this world:
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. – Matt 24:6-8 ESV
It is because of the certainty of its demise that our Leader reminds us not to set our hopes and affections on what we can attain or experience here:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal…– Matt 6: 19 ESV
Far better, He says, to live for our true home, and make investments that will not perish:
…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. – Matt 6:20 ESV
Placing our hopes and affections on the things this world offers is essentially the same kind of idolatry we often frame in Old Testament terms. But bowing down or offering something of value to a graven image is not the only way we can worship. I think it’s fair to ask how deep our pangs of anger and disappointment have been as we’ve seen our favorite sporting and artistic events cancelled, our favorite dining establishments shuttered, our health clubs closed, our comfortable routines upset, and our investment portfolios upended. The song Clear The Stage offers one of the better definitions of idolatry I’ve come across:
Any thing I put before my God is an idol
Any thing I want with all my heart is an idol
Any think I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
And any thing that I give all my love is an idol
I think it’s fair to ask how deep our pangs of anger and disappointment have been as we’ve seen our favorite sporting and artistic events cancelled, our favorite dining establishments shuttered, our health clubs closed, our comfortable routines upset, and our investment portfolios upended.
I believe our current global crucible is revealing many things to which we Christ-followers have given our affections. As these are revealed to us, our appropriate response is a fresh repentance and a loosening of the mental and emotional traction we have allowed them to gain in our hearts and our minds.
The Christian is not ultimately made for this world, and it was not Jesus’ intent that we should become too comfortable here. Amidst our current trials, my old ball cap will continue to remind me that we are all In Transit and called to lives characterized by a hope and joy that transcends the turmoil that will always be a part of our experience here. We are not immune from the hardships, but our Savior and Redeemer will get the last word:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. –Jn 16:33 ESV