With darkness closing in all around us, everywhere in the world (just check the news, if you can stand it), it’s hard not to think we are in the end times. Having said that, though, I’m confident there have been many people since the time of Christ who have thought the world could end any moment. I’ve read that this was a common sentiment during World War I, and then again during World War II, and many times since (with many nefarious characters cast in the role of Anti-Christ), yet here we still are. So I’m not going to pick a date as some sort of worthless prediction as to when the world as we know it comes to an end. Instead, I’ll say something in which I am completely certain: it will happen in God’s good timing. Just like everything else He does, which always dances beyond the edge of our understanding, and which can often be frustrating to us.
So what are we to do in the meantime? Allow God to work in us and through us so He can shape us into new creations, to be the people He knows we will be in the New Heaven and New Earth. Be a part of bringing His Kingdom to earth. Reflect his glory and love and beauty to everyone who could see it (which excludes nasty Facebook posts or tweets!), regardless of how we feel about them. Resist the darkness. Better yet, chase away the darkness by reflecting God’s light into it (not to repeat least week’s post…).
We live in the tension between the now–in the midst of all the hatred and vitriol and endless manifestations of evil and brokenness–and the not yet–when beauty and love and all things grand and glorious by Kingdom standards will be restored, made new. It’s so easy for me, and for all of us, I think, to become so consumed with the pressing issues of the “now” that we lose sight of our hope, our final destination, our eternity in peaceful and loving relationship with God and in fellowship with all believers throughout history.
It is when we hang onto that hope that God takes us by our hand and allows us to rise a little bit above our circumstances and catch glimpses of the New Heaven and New Earth that are being shaped all around us, just beyond our normal range of vision. These are our finest moments, a thread of gold woven throughout our journeys.
OK, I have to admit a rather silly tendency of mine to illustrate this point. I’m a big hockey fan, and more specifically, an avid fan of the Colorado Avalanche. But as much as I would like to be able to watch every game, in order to stay on friendly terms with my wife, I sometimes have to record the game to watch after she goes to bed (or falls asleep on the couch!). However, sometimes before I can even start watching the game, I’ll get a notification on my phone with the game’s final score and before I can look away, I see the score. And here’s the confession: if it’s a good and close score, sometimes I’ll still watch the game. The funny thing is that even though I know the outcome of the game, I’ll still cringe when the other team scores or something else bad happens. Seems silly, right? I know how it turns out, so why should I worry about a little setback along the way?
So here’s the deal: it’s just like this when we get lost in the setbacks of daily life and forget the hope and joy of the final outcome, when God completes His work of restoring creation to its original perfect state, and brings us along with Him. That’s even better than a Colorado Avalanche win!
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.The Apostle John, in Revelation 21:1-7 (NIV)
Sounds perfect to me! I plan to remember this passage when my “now” struggles overwhelm my “not yet” hopes. How about you? What verse or other inspiration can you try to conjure up when this happens to you? Leave a comment to let me know!