March 3, 2014

What We Will Be

We passed in the church hallway, that spiritual father and I. We nodded, said a few words, and I walked on, chasing children who have no other speed but fast. Later, he found me again. “I need to apologize,” he said, soft and slow, “I lied to you. You asked how I was, and I said ‘fine.’ Truth is. . .I’m not fine.”

And he’s not.

He’s been beaten down by grief and loss. 
Diminished by illness. Assaulted by words like “heart blockage” and “cancer.” Weakened and quieted by long years in a fallen world. No, he’s not fine.

To pass that beloved man in his pew, to know that he is struggling mightily even as he sits so still, leaves me undone. And there are others. Just a few rows back, a woman whose memories are jumbled, who calls me, sometimes, Mary. I don’t know who Mary is. I hope she is kind.

In other pews sit men and women whose struggles are not flesh-and-blood but principalities-and-powers. The ones who are sometimes foolish and easily angry, who are prideful and selfish. The ones who, like me, have too often fallen for Satan’s deadly bait-and-switch. They, too, are diminished—sin eating away at the edges of their gifts and graces, 
making them less than they ought to be.

We are not fine. Not fine at all.

But we will be. “Beloved,” writes the Apostle John, “we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (I John 3:2)

The older I get, the more I think about heaven. On our bathroom mirror, I recently taped a letter to my husband—my meditation on seeing him in eternity. “I will love you better when I am not your wife,” I wrote, “when we, unbound from one another, are together bound to Someone Else. . .when we are changed by the near presence of Christ.” I long for that day when I shall see Christ’s work perfected in my husband. And when I, too, shall be like Christ. Every time I look in the mirror, I am reminded to look through an eternal lens. What will be has not yet appeared. 

So, too, when I walk into church, I picture my brothers and sisters made perfect in eternity. Everything that weighs down and entangles will be removed. Everything that diminishes, weakens, obscures. Gone—washed away in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7:14) An eternal perspective decreases my sorrow and increases my love.

For now, of course, we rock along in the already-and-not-yet. Changed, but not changed. Fine, but not fine. Looking down the pews, I see slivers of eternity, and, in my mind, I complete the picture. The lame will walk and the blind will see.

Best of all, we shall be like our Jesus. This one will be unceasingly singing God's praises. That one will be washing feet. Those ones will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. I will love them perfectly. We shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:52)

One day, that beloved spiritual father—lying now in a hospital bed—will be fine. We both will. I can’t wait.

7 comments:

  1. So beautifully written! Thank you!

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  2. Thank you! I appreciate this blog so much. Just yesterday as I was chasing my two year old, with baby in arms, through crowds of people in our church, I was considering how untrue that "I'm fine" statement is, when I know some of the hurts and trials of the people here. Wish we slowed down more to really know each other. Thanks for the reminder of what's to come.

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    1. Yes, I have a mental "list" of people with whom I'm going to hang out in heaven--people that, for whatever reason, I'm prevented from developing relationships in this life. It encourages me that I will have plenty of time to get to know Christ in them when we are in eternity.

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  3. This is a precious reminder. Thank you.

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