We’ve been at Lake Burton since Sunday, fully enjoying the last days of summer. It may have been the most mentally restful few days of my whole summer and I have returned feeling quite blissful. The days there were free of those little stresses of home (housework, bills, appointments, deadlines, e-mail, when will our adoption move forward, where will we live in a few months, etc.) and a little more filled with just enjoying people and creation. The weather was perfect, the water clean and refreshing, my children played in fresh air and in the water for three full days and I just tootled around in the boat and sat on the dock and got to play my head off with them. As they tubed behind the boat at ridiculous speeds (well, Ellie on the “big kid” rides that only ended when they were thrown upside down with the flipping of the tube and then Chad on the more cruising level with the tinier set) and as I skied and played in the water, I couldn’t help but comprehend a little more about where this whole process of grace is headed.
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.” Rev. 21:1-5
It is not that the end goal is for me to be on vacation, lazy and doing nothing but indulging my every whim. It is better than that because the Marriage to come is not about ultimate selfishness but deepest satisfaction. Because there will be no more toil to my labor, work will be nothing but satisfying and productive and I won’t be desperate for a vacation or mental escape. I wasn’t made for “checking out” but for engaging with creation and in relationships as a reflection of my Creator, Redeemer and Father who cherishes me! Because creation will be at total peace, swimming in new oceans and lakes won’t carry with it the background fear of snakes or jellyfish or drowning or boating accidents or sunburn. Relationships will be at perfect peace so that there will no more children whining to parents and parents yelling at children, no more disconnect between friends because of differing world views nor words of agitation of any kind. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. Grace is taking us from brokenness to fullness as was only hinted at in the Garden. Grace is moving all of creation from shadow to reality!
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Cor. 13:12 Grace isn’t just a pass from guilt but a tool for drawing out my Christ-likeness. Grace isn’t just giving me a pat on the back, it is giving me sight! I couldn’t see my sin clearly before grace came in and gave me more honest sight of it, and grace gives me the courage to acknowledge what I see to be true in my heart, gives me hope that God’s work rather my own futile effort is going to remove it fully in time and replace it fully with Himself in the manner that best brings Him glory, and grace gives me the strength to endure the birthing process of this whole re-creation.
Sometimes it feels like I’m stuck in the “fall” stage of creation-fall-redemption-glory and the eyes I’ve been given to see my heart a little more clearly seem only to make life more negative. But the beauty of the lake and refreshment of my time there provided another reminder that no, the bad news isn’t the full story. Seeing the bad news of my true condition is the only way I can begin to comprehend the incredibly good news of my need for redemption and how extravagantly Jesus meets that need. As I see my heart more clearly, I see Him more clearly. He meets that need not just by bandaging my wounds but by making all things new, even me.
The gripping pain, at times, of the birthing of this new creation is so totally worth it in comparison to the blissfulness of what is to come. When I was at the lake, I could hardly remember what my daily life at home was all worked up about…it just wasn’t relevant or urgent when I was there. And I am pretty sure everything that made up those days of rest and recreation grossly pales in comparison with His rest and re-creation to come.
If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 2 Cor. 3:9-11
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17-18