I can’t believe summer is almost over already! Less than three weeks before school is back in full swing. And to be honest I’m not sure if I’m dreading it or looking forward to the routine again. I think the future always holds a little bit of a bitter sweet appeal to it. I’m grateful for the extra time with my daughter and husband, and all the slower more relaxed moments. I’m looking forward to seeing what this next year is going to bring her and what my life holds for me.
The future for some I found out is more bitter than sweet. I’m in a ladies Bible study of Philippians and one of the ladies in the group brought up verse 1:21 where Paul states, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” She was an elderly lady and I thought for sure she would resonate with this verse, she’s in her later years and has walked with Christ her whole life. Instead I was shocked to hear her say that she wished she truly felt as Paul. Then one of the other women whose middle aged like me chimed in and say she wished the same thing. I once again was faced with the reality that I might be different then most people. You see this verse is where I live. I’m here and alive because Christ isn’t done with me yet, but I long for heaven. I tried to ask my husband how he felt about this and it quickly become apparent that when you start a conversation with your spouse by saying, “Do you long for death?” that it might cause some alarm. I’ve found to the “normal” person, this thought is disturbing. It can come across as dark, depressed, and….well, suicidal. That’s not how I feel at all!!
I love my life! I have a great family, and I’m surround by friends who love me and mine like their own. I want to see my kids grow up, get married to someone as amazing as my husband, and to watch them as they experience the joy of parenthood. But….I long for heaven with a depth that is hard to explain. When I realized that this isn’t “normal” I’ve started really examining this desire to try to see if I can explain it. I think it boils down to this, my physical body sucks. The constant pain, the long list of “cant’s”, the way I can hyper extend my shoulder in my sleep and spend the next week babying it so it doesn’t get worse, the way the smallest change can send my body into a tail spin for months. I think Paul says it better than I can, “For we know that if our earthly house (this broken body) this tent (moldy and moth eaten) is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2. I’m so ready for my clothes of eternity.
I was talking to my son, who suffers from the same genetic disorder I do, one morning about the constant pain. I told him that I believe those of us that deal with chronic pain and illness here will experience and appreciate heaven at a different level than those who’ve lived a pain free life. Kind of like you don’t appreciate being healthy until after you’ve been sick. One of the things I struggle with are headaches and migraines, bright lights and I are not friends. It was even worse when we lived in Oregon, I wore sunglasses most of the time just to try to alleviate some of the pain. I can’t wait till I can look at the Glory of Christ and bask in His light with no pain! Probably not something that has crossed most people’s minds. I want to be able to run, leap, and cartwheel across the meadows with no repercussions, (and no fear of spiders and snakes) jump the waves, dance with joy, and spend eternity on my knees before my king and savior. I want to sit at the table and eat the feast prepared for me with no more diet restrictions.
I find it interesting that Paul wrote a fair amount about the new body and the tug-a-war between the calling of this life and the pull of heaven, and he’s also the one who talks about a thorn in the flesh that wasn’t removed. I’m starting to think that part of thee blessing of having a “thorn in the flesh” is a deep desire for heaven. A longing for a release from the earthly chains. Once again, don’t misunderstand me, I love my life here. I love the people God has put in my life and I know that God has a purpose and a plan for my life. I find so much joy in all the blessings He’s put in my life, from sunsets to the smile on my daughter’s face, the sound of my son’s voice, the embrace of my husband…I’m truly blessed here. I just wonder if sometimes we hold on to tightly to the blessings here.
The year before we ended up moving cross country my daughter’s life started unraveling a little. Some of her close friends at school turned on her. The softball team where she was treated like an all-star ended up benching her for a stand she took at school. Her best friend’s dad got orders to move to a new location. In the midst of all this we realized we needed to move 2500 miles away for my health. She stated after we moved that looking back she realized that God had taken away her comforts to make it easier to leave Oregon and start over. My mom is 70 and just now starting to have health issues and some chronic pain. She’s getting frustrated with the limitations of her body. What if aging is God’s way of helping us realize that this body and this life isn’t what it’s all about? What if it’s His way of removing some of the comforts of “home” to make the transition easier? I think too often we get caught up in the comforts of the here and now and forget that this life is not what it’s all about. That this life is but a vapor, a flash in the pan. What if we could fully grasp that truth? That our souls are what God is concerned with? That this life is preparing us for eternity and that our sole purposes is to share the light of Christ with those around us? How would that change the way we live?
1 Corinthians 15:51-53
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
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