Good Grief: Soundings, Part Six – The Ante-Chamber to Eternity

Good Grief: Soundings, Part Six – The Ante-Chamber to Eternity January 30, 2012

I must first admit that what I am about to share is only a small part of the answer to one of life’s great mysteries.   Keep in mind throughout this post the notion “life is not too short, when its everlasting!”

Sometimes people rant and rave at God when their children die young, or when a loved one is suddenly taken away.  They think God must be cruel, indifferent, or non-existent.  None of these things is true, but usually these reactions are grounded in a false baseline assumption — namely, that “this life is all there is.”  If it were true that this life is all there is,  and God is a God of love, then there might be a reasonable expectation that God would run around healing everybody all the time everywhere, unless the person was rather like Adolph Hitler or other really wicked human beings.

Christians do not buy the beer commercial cliche — “This life is all there is so you need to grab for all the gusto you can get.”  That sentiment is absolutely false.  This life is only the ante-chamber to eternity, and there is no good reason why God should or will endlessly prop up these fragile earthen vessels, when in fact he has a better plan.  Healing here and now or resurrection back into the same old body, or long life here and now is but a preview of coming attractions.  It is not the main event.  It is not all that there is to life.  It’s not the goal of life. This provides us with another clue about Jesus’ own ministry itself.

Early in the Gospel of Mark (Mk. 1.38), the disciples come to Jesus, who is in a quiet spot away from the clamoring crowds.   Jesus says quite simply, “Let’s go on to the neighboring towns so I may proclaim the message [of the Kingdom] there also for that is what I came out to do.”  Jesus came to preach the good news of everlasting life in the Kingdom, but he did healings and exorcisms and raisings of the dead as acts of compassion.   He never set out to do those things, but when the opportunity and the need arose, Jesus’ heart prompted him to heal and help in those physical and tangible ways, even though he knew that these were only temporary solutions to our mortality.  I suspect one of the reasons for the complaints about the Gospel being too otherworldly, is because deep down we believe that this life is all there is — or perhaps that the next life will be but a pale shadow of this one.  Neither of these things is true.  Jesus did not believe either of those things to be true.  Neither should we.

Now I do not know why Christy left this world when she did.  I can speculate, and one of the reasons might be because, as she said, “her body had become her mortal enemy.”  And this was already true at 32.  She had so many different physical problems over the years.  She was very tired of suffering, but she was a fighter.  She always said, “I think I am getting better.”  Now, at last, her words are true.  She is all better.

She suffered a great deal last Fall, and I’m glad she’s not suffering like that anymore.  I don’t view heaven as consolation for a life of suffering on earth.  In fact, I think the real consolation comes at the resurrection, when we will have resurrection bodies that are immune to disease, decay, and death, suffering, sin and sorrow.  Now that is something worth hoping for, a much better hope than life as a disembodied spirit in heaven.

What God knows about life in this veil of tears is that it is temporal and temporary ever since the Fall.  And healing in this life, or reprieves along the way, are only temporary too.  They are previews of the life to come, but that’s all they are. They aren’t the life to come itself.

Yes, we begin to experience the life to come internally here and now — “inwardly we are being renewed day after day, while outwardly we are wasting away.”  It’s that outward part that this post is about.  It is mortal in its current condition.  While my mind, heart, will, are emotions are being renovated by the grace of God and through the Spirit, the body is wasting away in ‘ole Margaritaville’.   In other words,  God knows something that many doctors don’t.  This life is not all there is, and we do not need to endlessly prop up this body in order to have life.  There is a time for the mortal body to die, and its in God’s hands.

Here is a reflection on some of these things in poetic form:

PARADISE/PARADOX

A Severe mercy
A Painful grace
The Valley of shadow
Time can’t erase.

Powers/principalities
Things present/things to come
Sudden suffering
Job struck dumb.

Ignorance and arrogance
Short-sighted souls
Offering a solace
That leaves us quite cold.

Height/depth
Death/life
Bliss/joy
Endless strife?

Razed/raised
Life beyond death
Out of it’s reach
Inhale His breath.

‘God’s ways are not our ways,
Our eyes cannot see
The logic of life
From eternity.’

‘God’s ways are not our ways,
Our hearts can’t see
The logic of love
Nailed to a tree.’

‘Into Thy hands,
I commend her spirit,
‘Today she is with….
Why should we fear it?’

Paradise lost
Paradise regained
No more suffering
No more pain.

For Christy, 20 days later…
Jan 30th 2012


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