When we’ve been there ten thousand years…
We’ve no less days to do all those things than when we first begun. Consider that: time, not as a line, but as a circle; not much like “time” at all. Do you think that God is too good to be true? Or too cruel for you to care? Then I hope that the thought of eternity kind of scares you, especially if you picture it as if it were here: something like a bunch of people trying very hard to be happy and very few achieving it.
Living forever here would be (let us be honest) exhausting. Death and shattered dreams fight with their opposites for the spotlight every day. And often they win. Do I want to watch that for 700 years? No thank you. 10,000?
Make it end.
But God is waiting for something. For your son to be born? For you to stop going it on your own? For just one more generation? Is there another John out there who He loves who just hasn’t yet come to be? He’s waiting for something- so He allows this giant sphere to spin on its axis still, and He waits, still, to make it new. To make it a place where no one ever says again: “Make it end.”
I almost laugh at our hesitation to fall on our knees. We say His name every day. We talk about heaven all the time, nonchalantly, in songs. We joke about heaven being here. And we cry when our heaven here ends – a relationship, a friendship, a job. Because something inside of us says that heaven shouldn’t end. So we glorify our pain more fervently? Hoping to make the good part of it last. That’s the pull of heartbreak, drugs. It’s not that we really like pain – not even the masochists (I’m convinced) – it’s that we can’t avoid the pain, so we lie hard to ourselves and say that we love the whole package. Because we don’t believe that we can have just the good part. Ever.
You’re right, you’re right, you’re right.
But let me tell you: Will you listen though? Will you really listen? Wait. Please, wait just a second. Be alive and present, here, in this moment, and ponder what I ask of you, please? He is risen.
There was a man named Jesus, a man whose story was half told many years before He was born. Then He came, as you and me. And He didn’t use His divinity. He lived.
He denied every day for about thirty years all those dirty little thoughts that you have, all those moments of unrighteous anger, every opportunity to pick a fight, to prolong one, to be selfish. He didn’t lust after women, or men. He didn’t puff Himself up with pride. Didn’t fight with His mom or argue with His dad, didn’t hurt his brothers. He did the right thing, every time, the first time. He took abuse, never gave it. He worked. He waited. He waited until the right time to die, looking forward His whole life to that one all-important moment, when He would offer Himself instead of me, as payment for all of the things that I can’t seem to stop from doing, because by golly even though I dream of changing the world, I can’t even seem to control my own mouth or my own thoughts for one straight twenty four hour period.
So when He claimed to exist outside of time, the people (who days before laid branches on the dirt for Him to walk on) decided that it would be a good idea to request His death in the form of a crucifixion, and to free a murderer. He took this unfair punishment, because it’s what He was born to do; He was meant to die the most unjust death, to do so in a lowly manner, with few to weep over it. Because our God isn’t selfish, didn’t die painfully and humiliatingly to make a good story. He did it out of pure love. Did He create us for His glory? You bet He did. But He died for love. The real kind. He would know. He created the idea. He is the idea.
And because good wins, because mercy triumphs over justice, Jesus did not rot in the grave as we do. He was raised up and He walked out of that grave, hands still pierced from hanging on the cross. Really? Yes, really. Thomas put his finger in the holes because He couldn’t believe that a dead man lived. And his response once he felt the wounds? “My Lord and my God!”
And He asked His disciples, before He descended into heaven, to tell the world the truth. The truth that He lives, that there’s power in His saving grace, that we love because He first loved us, that there is hope. And then He promised that He would come back, that He would end all that is bad, that He would make new, that He would raise up the dead, that He would reign. He promised. And He said He’d send a “helper,” this “holy spirit,” this inhabiter of our souls. That’s what we mean when we say that Jesus lives in us. We mean that literally His spirit fills our souls, that He permeates our being. He’s not an angel on my shoulder; He’s not even just a voice in my head. He’s my heart, whatever good can be found in it. It’s Him.
He’s the reason that forever sounds so sweet to me. Golden streets sound so much better than diamond rings or Ferraris. A place where He will wipe away, for good, all tears sounds better than glorifying the things that make us sad so that we can pretend they are less sad. I’d rather not pretend anymore. A place with no death sounds better than a place where babies and seniors alike taste it every minute of every day. A place with no lying or cheating, no lust and no selfishness, no pride and no greed sounds better than a place where we write songs that make such things sound like virtues. There’s music there, too. I don’t need anymore than all of that. I can live off of perfect forever. His light is enough for me. His love is enough for me.
Is it for you? Could it be? Have you found a worthy alternative?