I have the most faithful headache in the world. If I am not already awake – and usually I am – it wakes me up sometime after five. Now you would think this would send me off to the doctor, wouldn’t you? But since living in the States, without socialized medicine, I have learned to be more self-diagnostic. (No more thousand dollar hemorrhoids, please!) And I know it is just my body crying out for its early morning cup of coffee. My, a little addiction goes a long way!
This morning I woke up thinking about Beauty. I am sure it is because I was watching a documentary on young ballet dancers last night. I adore ballet. I know nothing about it, and can’t even move to music myself. But the combination of music, story, and grace are overwhelming. Do you remember I wrote about moments of joy that can elicit, in a very general sense, the fact that there is a marvelous creator? To me, ballet can be one of those experiences.
For a Christian, these moments elicit more than a nameless longing, but specific excitement about a fairly well-defined future: the new heavens and the new earth. The Christian’s hope. I wonder why we don’t spend more time talking and thinking about this everlasting reality that will make the present seem like the chimera that in some senses it is?
We Christians acknowledge a triumvirate of virtues – faith, hope, and love – but I would say 90% of our time is spent exegeting faith and love. Poor hope is left to languish!
What are the benefits of living with a vibrant expectation of – again I want to say it – that well-defined future hope of the new heavens and the new earth?
1) It draws us into the future. It generates true excitement. Imagine living as a perfect human being in a perfect world. Me, re-made, in this earth, re-made! And no angelic existence, but a very ‘peopley’ one. Tasks to accomplish and grow in – but without thorns and thistles; an earth to explore – but without passports, tummy issues and jet lag; to a human perspective, an almost infinite number of God’s people to get to know over those endless eons. And all under the immediate supervision and friendship of God himself. Can’t wait!
2) It makes us so very patient in affliction. Because we will have perfect satisfaction in the future, present frustrations assume their proper places. We strive to work on this earth with the talents God has given us but if we can’t use them, express them in the way we would like to, even long to – really, so what? There is absolutely nothing that can’t and won’t be put into service in that greater reality by the God who designed us in the first place!
I remember reading about a Russian Christian who was being mocked by his captors for his belief in our future hope. He said simply to imagine the inner life of an unborn child. He has arms and legs, recognizes their potential use but thinks there is not a thing he can do with them. But not for long! Soon all falls into place!
Awaiting that hope with eager expectation, and looking up as my redemption draws closer.
Up! Always up!