The impatient, faithless, immediate part of me wants to create my own heaven--my own perfect garden. After all, the real heaven I have heard about lurks out of reach, vague and hazy. How can I think about someplace I am told I will like when so many great things surround me--and I am so busy trying to hang on to them?
But they slip away, even as I grasp at them. Neither seasons nor my aging cat should tighten my grip on what I have right now, but instead ought to point toward what's to come, toward heaven.
According to our pastor, when God says in Revelation 21:5, "I am making everything new," He uses a Greek word for new that means restored. Think of that when you read the following: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away" (Revelation 21:1). That means that wherever things are ruined, diseased, or overcrowded, they will be remade . . . like new! Contaminated landfills? Squalid slums? Exhausted farmland? Won't find 'em there.
Even better, as 1 John 3:2 tells us, "We know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Emotional distance? Cruelty? Rejection? Misunderstanding? Nowhere! We will bask in absolute tenderness with God--and each other.
One afternoon when our son was five, I was telling him about heaven and reading him descriptions from the Word. His response is etched in my memory. "Oh, Momma, don't you just want to go there? Won't it be wunnerful?" He was jumping and spinning around me with his arms outspread, as if he could already see it, feel it, hear it. And the ecstasy of it all whirled him around the room.
I try to do that now, to take God at his Word so completely that I feel like whirling. Doing so gives me courage to acknowledge the ache in living. Nowadays, when life stabs at me, I can look past the sadness toward heaven. I like to think of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Glory. Where we will never grow old--and nothing, nothing, nothing will ever go wrong again.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
These concluding thoughts from The View from Goose Ridge: Watching Nature, Seeing Life, by Cheryl Bostrom, dovetailed in an encouraging and hopeful way with the thoughts of yesterday's post, "Light and Momentary." I pray they encourage you as they did me. (Thanks to my friend L for the gift of this charming book of essays deriving spiritual lessons from life on a farm in the Pacific Northwest.)