If you love Jesus in this life, you will eventually awaken to the truth that in a sense you exist outside your true place. We are all outside perfection. We dwell in the land of mess and rain, where bullies roam. Yes, grace is there with us, like a friend drawing us back toward warmth and shelter, sustaining us. And there are those brief, wonderful glimpses of The World As It Should Be, where we do get picked for the team. We do get the candy (see previous posts 1 & 2). No more tears. No more sickness. No more cancer. No more abuse or loss. No more divorce or depression. No more school shootings or sons lost on the battlefield. But we aren’t there yet. That’s another world, the Kingdom of God, while we presently exist in the space of kingdom realization chiefly through prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth…” We long for it with sweat and blood and memory. But there is a process called Human Experience that we must endure along the way. And it isn’t always pretty. Precisely because it isn’t always pretty, we are prepared in pain for eternity. Listen: if we only had Joy, we would never want eternity. If we only had Pain, we could never believe for it.
In the tension and necessary dialogue between both realities inside our souls—in the flashpoint of glimpsing it, while watching it fade—we are taught to long for what is most real, and depend less and less on what is passing away. The Valley of Shadows makes it all too clear: this world is not composed of the truly eternal stuff we are looking for.
To be human is to be the ultimate outsider. We were created to inhabit a perfect world, to never die, to enjoy unbroken intimacy with God. Yet it is a fallen world, our bodies can be wracked with pain, and we struggle to hear His voice and be confident of His love. We wish for union with one another, with God, yet we are separated; we yearn for wholeness, yet remain incomplete. I know you have felt it. But do you recognize that it is a deeply spiritual feeling, a moment of truth in a world of falsehood…to feel outside? To ache to be inside? It is a moment of clarity in a world of illusion. Don’t be fooled. It is not mere emotional angst, as you may have thought. Instead, our body, soul and spirit are aligning, pointing polar north, towards eternity, for which we know we were created. We know it in our knower. It is the gift of pain, granting clues leading us home. Because this world is not, ultimately, our home. But the kingdom come to this world…is.
So…after winter, spring. I must settle this deep in my soul. I will never find Ultimate Spring in this life. The confession of my hope, which keeps me from wavering, must be the one which takes this moment of pain, and through pain, transcends it, allowing me to enter more deeply the grace of forever which has been deposited in my heart, calling me home.