An Understandable Misunderstanding

“God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land (Psalm 68:6).”

John Steinbeck’s title –– inspired by Revelation 14:14-16

John Steinbeck, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel about a parched land (The Grapes of Wrath) said, “We are lonesome animals.  We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome.”  

Put another way, we fill up our Saturdays with some “thing” to not be so lonely.  We may not admit it, but we all live for our particular thing…golf, college football, travel, a boat, or a person.  And those 3,600 Saturdays all add up to one thing –– one life spent, on self.

But the Apostle Paul said, “To live is Christ.”  His “thing” was others, to tell everyone that our death riddle was solved in the resurrected Jesus.  “I do all things for the sake of the gospel.”  His life was spent sharing a message to end loneliness and free prisoners.

The 1940 Movie Poster

We think this life is all there is and so we invest in it to stave off our loneliness.  Paul disagreed.  The real life is yet to come, so death is actually a gain.  His full quotation is, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  No one thinks death is a gain.  When we offer our condolences we say, “I’m sorry for your loss.”  But Paul says just the opposite, and more!

“I prefer to be absent from the body and at home with the Lord.”  Death (absent from the body) is preferable when you realize that Jesus Christ is truly alive, and waits for you to come home to the real world (no loneliness), to real “prosperity” (death-row prisoners ransomed and adopted by a cosmic billionaire).  If you let Him, He’ll lead you home too. So why this loneliness?  

We’re lonely because we don’t know our Creator, filling up Saturdays in our prison cell with our “thing.”  We misunderstand.  This life is a “puff of smoke.”  The next eternal life, where the risen Jesus is, is the real deal.  It’s an “understandable misunderstanding” because sin has deadened us, made us spiritually unaware of His love, and condemned us.

John Ford, Jane Darwell, and Henry Fonda on GOW set

This sin-coma imprisons us in its death sentence.  “The wages of sin is death,” both now, making us spiritually dead and separated from God; and also in our physical death, forever separated.  But if we give up, ask Him to take away our sin-tattoo, and trust His cross-payment for our sin…then we’re released from prison (John 5:24).  It’s simple faith…a complete, genuine surrender that says, “I was wrong, I’m sorry, take me back.”  

Sadly, Steinbeck rejected Jesus’ offer.  “I am not religious so I have no apprehension of the hereafter, either in hope of reward or a fear of punishment.”  In 1968, Steinbeck died in New York City, on the Friday before Christmas…hours before his very last Saturday.

Now you know the truth.  There’s no misunderstanding.  You can end your aloneness, come home, and be freed from the sin prison of selfishness.  Or stay a rebel like Steinbeck in a parched land, condemned in your cell, waiting for your last Saturday. You only need to be willing (John 5:40).


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