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“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” — John 15:33
Have you ever PCSed and had the realtor tell you that the most important thing to consider in choosing a house is “location . . . location . . . location”?
In his new book, Dangerous Calling, Paul David Tripp says that phrase also refers to life.
When I read that statement I was intrigued. I know that people in the military have to be very flexible about what they call “home.” And when I read his admonition that “location . . . location . . . location” can also be used in a spiritual sense, I wondered how that might apply to the military life.
Tripp uses “location . . . location . . . location” in a masterful way to remind us of several important points regarding our time on earth. I will summarize his points using some of my thoughts which apply to the military:
1. First, remember this location—this world we live in—is a deeply fallen world. You who fight for the freedom of those oppressed around the world know this better than anyone. Tripp says, “You and I live in a very broken world where there is trouble on every side.” (p. 108) Governments, families, churches, relationships . . . our own bodies, are all flawed. Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Romans 8:22-24: “The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Tripp reminds us, “When you face this harsh reality, you will live prepared for the troubles that come your way.” (p. 108)
2. Second, remember the location where the fiercest battles will occur is in your own heart. Alexander Solzhenitsyn is famous for writing in Gulag Archipelago this statement about the enemy of sin within, “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties—but right through every human heart—and all human hearts.” The prophet Jeremiah puts it this way, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
The truth is that when we face temptation. . . when we face the troubles caused by sin in our hearts and in this world . . .when we face our own brokenness. . . we will run to somewhere for refuge. When we need comfort and strength, courage and healing, grace and mercy. . . we need a safe location in which to turn. In Proverbs 18:10 we read this good news, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” We might want to turn to addictions, entertainment, wild pursuits—but they ultimately will not satisfy. Tripp writes, “God really is your refuge and strength. Only he rules every location where your trouble exists. Only he controls all the relationships in which disappointment will rear its head. Only he has the power to rescue and deliver you. Only he has the grace you need to face what you are facing. Only he holds the wisdom that, in trouble, you so desperately need. Only he is in, with, and for you at all times. He is the refuge of refuges. Do you run to him?” (p. 109)
3. Third, remember Christians are heading to a location where trouble will be no more. I believe Christians in the military can demonstrate, perhaps better than most, a satisfaction in a required nomadic lifestyle because they know this earth is not our home—our citizenship is in heaven. The Apostle Paul states this so plainly in Philippians 3:18-20: “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” The cross of Christ takes us from daily trouble to ultimate redemption. Glory!
In his summary statement on “location. . . location. . . location”, Paul David Tripp writes, “You could argue that the biblical story is about three locations. The garden in Genesis was a location of perfection and beauty but became a place of sin and trouble. The hill of Calvary was a place of both horrible suffering and transforming grace. And the New Jerusalem, that place of peace and refuge lit by the brightness of the Son, will be our final refuge forever.” (p. 109)
Where are you located right now? Wherever you are in the world tonight, God is there with you. Even though the world is fallen; even though sin abounds. . . He is with you, and He brings hope. One of my favorite Scriptures regarding God’s presence is from Psalm 139. As if it were written for military serving around the world, David writes, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there (sounds like aviators to me); if I make my bed in the depths, You are there (sailors?), if I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea (downrange?), even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7-10)
Although we live in a fallen world, because of the accomplished work on the cross of Christ, we are free and have the promise of life everlasting with Him. Location? From Him. Location? Through Him. Location? To Him. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36)
Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).
Questions to Share:
1. In what ways do you see the phrase “location . . . location . . . location” applying to your spiritual life?
2. Pray for each other to be encouraged with the promise, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).