Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ooh heaven is a place on earth...

Or not so much…unless it’s Fiji.  And Seely Booth is there.  Oh wait—that can’t be right.  Moving on…
When I was younger, in high school and college and maybe even my early twenties, the idea of eternity really freaked me out.  I felt like I was “supposed” to be longing for eternity, but I wasn’t.  There are two reasons for this: 1) I thought eternity meant I’d be singing songs all day long for infinity, and really, I’d appreciate something else to do, and 2) I really wanted to have sex before I died or Jesus returned.  Hey, I’m just being honest.
The real world has changed my attitude drastically.  Whatever pleasures do or do not await me in this life, I would rather be hanging out with God (either I’ve spiritually matured or just given up).  About five or six years ago, I began to really long for eternity in a way I never dreamed possible before.  Emotionally, I was at a pretty low place, and I wanted an escape from it.  My first longings for heaven were more about an end to my own pain and less about being fully united with Christ.  Over the past several years, this has started to shift, as I’ve fallen more in love with God, but I also started experiencing a different reticence about eternity.
                I want my own pain and griefs and sin and brokenness taken away, and I find great comfort in the idea of final justice resting in the hands of God.  But what about ways I’ve been hurt by others who profess to be believers?  What happens to broken relationships among Christians?  What happens to apologies that are never issued or wrongs that are never made right in this world?  I have a much easier time forgiving non-Christians for hurting me than I do my own brothers and sisters in Christ, as awful and sinful as that is.   I also know I’m guilty of causing other people hurt, and there are likely things I need to seek forgiveness for but haven’t, out of either ignorance or pride.  But there’s something in me that bristles against the thought that all of those wrongs and hurts and broken relationships will just be wiped away.  It doesn’t seem like enough.  I don’t want them forgotten; I want them fixed. 
                So imagine my utter astonishment when I discovered that, according to Tim Keller, I was looking at eternity all wrong.  I hope I’m not breaking any copyright laws by quoting him here, but in The Reason for God, he writes that the Biblical view of the resurrection is

not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted.  This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater…Jesus insisted that his return will be with such power that the very material world and universe will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed and all might-have-beens will BE…Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.
For some reason, I’ve never considered this before.   Maybe this isn’t news to everybody else, but the idea that that every sad thing will become un-sad is revolutionary to me.   It’s restoration on a different scale.  It means that all the painful things of this world won’t just be erased, like they never happened, they’ll actually be restored to something beautiful and glorious and joyful.  I want this to take root in my heart so that I might be able to rest more fully in the hope of eternity with Christ and what that really means for my future. 

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