Despite my propensity to look on the sunny side of life, I sometimes need a shot of hope; a reminder that one day my struggle to be all that God has called me to be will culminate in an eternity of deep and unending peace. No kidding. I totally identify with the Apostle Paul who wrote,
“… I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”
– Romans 7:18-19
An often inept disciple of Jesus Christ, this unfortunately is the story of my life; four steps forward, three steps back. Sometimes it gets my dauber down.
That said, I truly believe that there is a solution for any problem and a positive outcome around every corner. This tendency toward optimism is actually a quality that can irritate my friends and family members to no end. I have a nasty habit of offering up positivity (really a word?) and unsolicited solutions when all they really want from me is silent agreement as they mourn the most recent sucker punch dealt them by a hard hard world. I get that. But, I just can’t help myself. I’m inclined to look on the bright side.
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.” ”
“Is it?” “Yes,” said Eeyore.
“However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
― A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
So, I was walking our dog Gus today when John Lennon’s killer hit Imagine arrived at “Up Next” on my iPod and I listened to the song’s lyrics with new ears after not hearing them for a long time. Apparently, there has been great debate (among church leaders, politicians, and others who care deeply about such things) over both Lennon’s motivation for writing the song and his intended message. Some consider it an inflammatory political piece (somewhat of a communist manifesto) while others view it as an innocuous presentation of an unattainable Utopia; though one that requires a complete dismantling of all current social, political, and governmental structures, which apparently makes some folks nervous (I am still processing this).
All debate aside, as I walked along with Gus, enjoying the morning air and the green of spring, my spirits elevated and I allowed myself to imagine what life will be like when God’s plan to redeem mankind culminates in the creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth.
God has made a promise and I know He intends to keep it.
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”
– Isaiah 65:17
It’s going to be AWESOME.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
– Revelation 21: 3-5
Walking along thinking about God’s promise, I inserted my own thoughts into Lennon’s lyrics.
“Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky.”
Heaven on earth; no fear of death clouding our vision and leading us to make really bad choices. No worries about tornadoes or drought or forest fires; nature redeemed, paradise restored, people and all of God’s creation living on Earth as He intended.
“Imagine all the people living for today.”
No need for life insurance, cancer expense reimbursement policies, or 401K retirement plans.
“Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for…”
No more immigration law debates, National Security Agency, CIA, or military deployments. No more healthy young men and women going off to war, then returning home wounded and forever scarred by the memories of battles won and lost.
“And no religion too…”
One God, His glory finally fully revealed and acknowledged; every head bowed. One King, His Church no longer split over theological arguments, doctrinal issues, or denominational norms. Men, women and children no longer abused or oppressed in the name of religion.
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world.”
No more “haves” and “have-nots”, no more selfish ambition or unsatisfied yearnings for a bigger house, newer car, or greater influence on the job. No more distinctions between those living in the “first world” and “developing world”. Simple gratitude abounding, each of us consuming what we need and no more, no hunger or sickness or death.
“You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.”
Imagine… a world, one day, restored; the culmination of God’s perfect plan to live with those who He loves and who love Him.
As Christians we believe that life here on this Earth is but a moment in time; intended to provide us with an opportunity to choose to love God with all our hearts and to be used by Him to bless others (or to choose for God to leave us alone, a decision that He will also honor for eternity). We believe that left to our own devices, a truly peaceful and loving existence among all mankind is not possible. We trust God to change us from the inside out as we live every day as best we can, drawing closer with every step to our Creator God and our ability to live as He intends for us to live. And we look forward to the finish line where we will eternally rest with Him; when He will restore his creation finally and for all time.
This promise lifts my spirits and makes me irrevocably optimistic.
I am encouraged by it when I am worn down or anxious about all that I am not or do not have. Every day is a new opportunity to be grateful and hopeful and to share God’s promises with others.
“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A. A. Milne, Tales of Winnie the Pooh