We’ve explored a lot these past few weeks together. I imagine your heart has taken a bit of a roller coaster ride of sorts like mine. Hope has risen with the beauty and plan of God’s love. Grown dim with the understanding of our story’s villain and the price of our disobedience. Then taken the courageous climb once again as we explored God’s plan of rescue. While this hope has alleviated some of our pain, we are still keenly aware that we suffer the consequences of a world gone mad.
It has hit home for me this past week. My household has been affected harshly by the recession. This weekend my eleven year old blacked out for the sixth time, and now we’re scheduled to see a neurologist for further testing. My own health has been under attack the past few years.
I know too many who are staring death in the face; and those who are just rising from the ashes it leaves in the lives of those left behind. Others are struggling to recover their reputation from slander and rumor. I could go on and on, as I think of the many different troubles being faced by the people I know.
In the depths of our hearts, a voice cries out, “This is not the way it was meant to be! Is there any end to our suffering?! Please tell me there’s relief somewhere!” When we allow such longings to surface, the question of how our story ends begs to be answered.
For those with no hope, the enemy whispers, “You suffer and suffer, then…nothing. That’s it. Your life is over.” But for most of us whose faith is in Jesus, Satan has stolen the breath-taking wonder and promise of eternity. I know I heard it growing up in the church countless times, “We will sing with the choir in the heavens forever and ever.”
That’s the ending? You mean, after all the glory we were created with, all the beauty of Eden, and all the wild adventure of God, our end prize is to sing forever? Don’t get me wrong, I love singing! I have been a part of a children’s choir, youth choir, adult choir, a ladies quartet, and a praise band. Yet, singing forever is not what is written on my heart about eternity!
Surely God has written a far greater ending to our story than we could ever tell! In Isaiah 65:17, He is foretelling the end, “Behold, I will create a new heavens and a new earth.”
“Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
It’s the final scenes of The Lion King. Corrupt living under the guise of their evil leader has almost destroyed the kingdom of the lions. A few faithful followers of the truth remember what their land and life used to be, and they long for its return. When the one true king returns to reclaim the land, a terrible battle ensues between him and the evil one.
The crowd is filled with both gasps and jeers as the two thrash about. Finally, the evil one is destroyed. Yet, all is burned in a terrible fire. Then, the rains come. Oh, how the brittle and dry ground receive its cool refreshing life! And we see it before our very eyes, creation made new, regained. Everything comes to life again, and it is more glorious than before!
We get Paradise back. The kingdom restored! Every miracle Jesus performed points to our restoration. He touches the blind, and they can see; all the vibrant colors, and their children’s faces! He makes the lame to walk again, and they leap with joy and run about! The deaf hear. The sick are made well. And the dead—arise and return to their families. He takes what is broken in humanity, and restores it. (John Eldredge, Epic)
Jesus was killed, and buried as any other man, His body laid in a tomb. Yet He, Himself, conquered death, and is simply the first of many to come.
“The fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)
“…I am going to prepare a place for you. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:2-3)
Jesus promises to come back for us! To restore us as He is restored, along with all creation. And we’ll get to share the kingdom together, with Him! “All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” (Romans 8:21)
“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." (Revelation 21:4)
No more tears of pain and sorrow. Death’s sting will be forever destroyed. Sin will be erased. We will see each other as we were meant to be, in all our glory. Fellowship with God will be unbroken, and all our questions will be answered. Story after story will be told.
Jesus tells us that we will inherit the kingdom prepared for us. We will reign with Him forever, and will rule as He does. “The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead.” (Romans 8:19-20 The Message)
If we will not silence the longings striving to speak to us in our pain, we will hear Love’s promise. It is the final and complete fulfillment of our redemption. It is the greatest love story ever told, and the greatest yet to come.