A Meditation on Our “Temporary Stay”

When I was in Israel in 1997 (could it really have been that long ago?), I met Mr. David Stern. Our group had dinner at his home, and I recall him playing the piano for us. But the main reason we were there was that he had recently completed translating the New Testament into a Jewish mindset. Throughout the text, he used Jewish words to help give the flavor of the actual time when Jesus walked in the land.

I got a copy of his translation and have used it periodically ever since. It’s the translation I’m currently reading in my morning devotionals. As I was praying through the first letter of Peter (called Kefa in this translation), I came to verse 17 of chapter one, and the wording stood out to me in a way other translations didn’t. In this version, it reads, “If you are addressing as Father the one who judges impartially according to each person’s actions, you should live out your temporary stay on earth in fear.”

The words “temporary stay” are what stood out. I tried to recall if other versions used that wording, and as I checked into a number of them, I saw translations such as “time as foreigners,” “time of your exile,” and “time of your sojourn”—all excellent translations as well—but somehow “temporary stay” came across to me as more poignant this morning.

Perhaps it’s because I’m realizing more than ever how temporary our stay here on earth is. I rarely thought about that when I was younger, caught up (as we all are) with plans for the future, thinking about all the things I was going to do.

Now, even though I don’t believe God is done with me yet, I think less about my earthly future and more about eternity.

“Kefa” goes on in this chapter to quote from Isaiah 40, another verse that speaks pointedly to me:

“All humanity is like grass, all its glory is like a wildflower—the grass withers, and the flower falls off; but the Word of Adonai lasts forever.”

A team wins the Super Bowl. Congratulations. But the glory is like that wildflower that will wither. Politicians win elections. Fine, but the glory you think you can associate with that will wither also. It’s only part of that “temporary stay” on this earth. All the laurels you think you have won will fade away. Eternity awaits. Where, oh politician, will eternity find you? Only the Word of Adonai will last.

That’s the mindset I need to walk in every day. I hope this short meditation will help you develop that mindset as well.