We've been faced with a lot of tragedy in our little town these past two weeks. Life has vanished and I sit wondering how any heart can bear so much angst in the world. In a life where we are inundated with catastrophe upon catastrophe happening next door to across the seas, it's no wonder that we sometimes need to shut down the life source (i.e. TV, internet, the paper, etc), in order to simply breathe. If you're anything like me, having a sensitive and easily moved/compassionate soul, you just might need to shut out the cries of the world. It's far too easy to be moved by a persuasive speech telling me to stomp upon the feet of injustice as hundreds of thousands of children die each day due to starvation, the AIDS epidemic, not to mention the thousands more being orphaned and forced into the sex trade. Where does the hope lie? And how do I stand a chance against it all?
There is a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from it. In our little community, which sits more north than the majority of the Canadian population, a little girl (age two) died instantly in a car accident, a young man starting his college years went missing and found dead, and a little boy born with a heart defect only lived two weeks, while all the parents are aching of a broken heart. When I hear a preacher tell me about how the world is hurting and how we need to be the ones to stand for injustice, you will most likely see me nodding my head in agreement. However...Yes, I write, however, it's far too easy to become claustrophobic by the pangs of all of life, which needs saving and far to easy to forget about what's right in front of us. It's too easy to become ridden with fear, anxiety & restlessness, because we are not the Savior. We cannot redeem it, and it hurts.
I've been reminded how what is happening in my life at home, my neighborhood, and my community might be all that I need to focus on most of the time. What did people do when there was no internet or TV to broadcast what was happening in the far East, or even the East Coast? Maybe, just maybe, people were a little more sane and able to extend hands of grace & love to the people they were constantly rubbing shoulders alongside. I'm not told to bear the weight of the world, and I'm relieved.
While dealing with anxiety like a vice grip, I continued to fear death. I was bombarded and overwhelmed by the constant reality that I would die and everyone I loved would too. But, one day driving in the car, I was listening to my good friend Rob Bell (at least I like to think we would be) and he was talking about heaven. There were many things that struck me, but what struck me the most was if we took sin out of the Bible we would be left with a rather small pamphlet. It would include Genesis 1 & 2 and Revelation 21 & 22. In the first garden, God created life and dwelt with his creation. In the last city, which is many gardens, God redeemed life and dwelt with his redeemed creation.
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, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live 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."
A Year Ago: Heirloom Tomato Soup
God will dwell with us. I look forward to that reality. I look forward to those words, "Now the dwelling of God is with people, and he will live 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...I am making everything new!" That is what gives me hope and enables me to love. I hope this too will bring you restored hope wherever you are walking in your journey.