“…pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis in The Problem with Pain
Anyone who has walked through pain understands the rousing it brings. God’s lessons come hard and fast in suffering. It brings into sharp relief the things that matter in this life and the things that don’t.
But it’s not just this life that has been clarified. I also understand more than ever that this world is not my home. I love life here, I adore my family and I have many passions. But this life is a flash compared to the life we’ll have in eternity.
Our lives this side of heaven are a tiny dot on an endless line of eternity. As soon as you think you’ve imagined the end of that line, you’ve only reached the first day.
Eternity and heaven once seemed so distant. They were decades down the road for me. I believed in heaven for sure but it was a faint shadow in the periphery of busy days teaching kids, shuttling them to activities and putting dinners on the table.
Loss has made heaven a present reality. I’m no longer blindly focused just on the dot. While I’m still busy teaching kids and shuttling them to activities and trying most nights to get dinner together, there’s been a good shift. Knowing that this world is not my forever home has not just helped explain suffering. It’s helped me plant these 3 truths for life this side of heaven.
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I hold things more loosely.
The things of this world have grown strangely dim. I would never have understood that before Dan died. But the glimmer of newer, bigger, prettier isn’t nearly as shiny.
I used to have a huge itch for a bigger house. With nine people under our roof — several who were strapping teen boys — our house seemed small. I wasted so much thought and emotion being discontent.
That changed instantly after Dan died. That morning, my house filled with people. I hadn’t cleaned for them. I hadn’t put away my work piles or made any beds. Our upstairs air conditioner had gone out the night before and our lower unit couldn’t keep the house cooled.
What did it matter? It didn’t. Family and friends didn’t come to tour a house; they came to cry with us. And in the following weeks without Dan, I was suddenly aware that the size of our house seemed to fit well.
I don’t fear death.
Even though I’d compartmentalized death into the old age box, there was always a scary unknown when I thought my own death. Fear of death is apparently pretty universal.
That fear makes us avoid the topic. We put off talking about it or even thinking about it. So many folks put off ever planning for it.
But living for the line of eternity rather than this dot frees us from any fear of death. Each day is held by a sovereign God who is Himself perfect Love and every single one of our days was written in His book before one of them came to be.
Now, I have kids I want to raise and grandchildren I hope to cuddle, so I sure hope it’s down the road. But I no longer ignore it or fear it.
I want every bit of life out of this dot.
[Jesus] came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
That life is short and temporary makes it even more precious. What a gift we have. Jesus did not just redeem us for eternity. Thank the Lord for that! But His work on earth allows us to have a rich and satisfying life here. It gives meaning and significance to every single day on this dot and every single person in our life.
I don’t want to miss any of it. I don’t want to shrink back from any of the adventure that God has planned for me this side of heaven. I want ears that hear and eyes that see. I don’t want to pine away for what isn’t — or what may never be — but to enjoy the thrill of all God has for me.
I want to love as fully as I’m able. I want to feast on the good that God has right now. I hope I smile more and really, I want to laugh a whole lot more. Because we of all people with the hope of heaven and the forgiveness in Christ should be gleaning the abundance of life.
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