“The darkness and pain of this life are becoming nothing, we are blinded by the light of our own beautiful ending.” -Romans 8:18 (paraphrased)
The best is yet to come; our best is yet to come. The garbage we face in this life is nothing, it’s eclipsed, it’s drowned out by the glory, beauty and radiance of Christ’s presence in our future! Imagine that you are on a train careening down the tracks, out of control, faster and faster, toward the edge of a canyon without a bridge. The faster the train goes the more painful the ride becomes as you scream ever closer to your death. The terror in you builds as you realize the pain you are feeling will only continue to grow until your life is finally snuffed out at the bottom the abyss ahead.
You have no hope.
But as you look ahead, toward the edge of the cliff, at the fast approaching end of the tracks you see a shimmer that is growing steadily brighter until it is no longer just a sparkle of light but is now a brilliance like you cannot describe… it grows bigger and brighter than the sun and you can feel this light burning right through you! This is your salvation! The glory before you will save you from the fall, but you have to go through the pain to reach it…
This light is expecting you, it’s pulling at you even faster than your train is already moving…you find yourself crawling to the front of the engine, out onto the ledge, reaching ahead yourself, stretching out toward this light because it isn’t getting to you fast enough, the end of the tracks is coming too slowly, death is taking too long.
The light grows brighter still and your eyes tear up and sting from the brilliance but you cannot look away…
The world around you fades.
The pain is nothing because the future is so beautiful! This is our future. The glory of Christ revealed to us and through us. Imagine a life lived with the end always in mind, like a blinding light in the corner of your eye, something you cannot ignore. Imagine a life lived in the anticipation of death not because we hate life, but because on the other side is Christ!
In the book of Acts we read about the death of a Stephen, who saw the glory of God and couldn’t look away even as he was being stoned! I imagine him reaching up to the sky, tears streaming down his face, never feeling a single rock… just watching the glory draw near…
I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. I’ve been there when quite a few people have died, from hospital beds to a muddy ditch beside a highway, and it always leaves you a different person; for a few brief moments you can see through the veil, you see through the lies the world drapes over our eyes, and you realize how truly human and fragile we really are. We are not as strong as we believe. We will all reach the end of the tracks.
I can remember all those times I have witnessed death, mostly I remember the helplessness of those moments. Holding someone you love in your arms isn’t enough to save them. Death is something we must all face, and we will all face it alone. It makes me angry that the world is in such a state that anything has to die. I’ve been chewing on this idea of death for a few weeks now and I have to admit I’m finding myself in a rather unexpected state of mind; for the first time I can say that I would rather die than spend one more day in this broken shell of a world. Death no longer seems to be an enemy…
I’ve been trying to place a name on the weird emotion I’ve been feeling regarding death and I think I’ve finally found it: Envy. I am jealous of everyone who has gotten to die. I’m not saying it’s ever a good idea to kill yourself, but I am saying that it would be better to die and go home to the glory and splendor of my Father than have to keep on living in the pain of this broken world. Philippians 1:21 tells us that we should consider death a gain, not a loss. The glory at the end is so brilliant the darkness of this life melts away around us; but that verse also gives us a reason not to eat a bullet and check out early: Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galations 2:20
To live or die is no longer my decision. I would honestly rather die and leave this all behind but the decision is Gods because my life is His. Nursing homes, emergency rooms, ditches by the highway; people who have run their race and are so near the end, I would gladly trade them places. As strange as it may sound, I have even found myself looking at flattened animals on the road differently! I don’t know exactly what happens to rabbits when they die, but I do know that the Bible says all of creation is groaning like a woman in labor for the time when it will all be made new, and so deep down inside of me I believe God has a place for those rabbits (and everything else in all of creation), that there is a future for them that includes somehow being made new in the hands of God and that makes me jealous because that is exactly what I am longing for! I want to leave this world and all it’s torments behind and go be with my God forever. I truly believe that, no mater how painful the threshold between Earth and Glory, death is gain because it puts us completely and eternally in the hands of God instead of in the hands of the world!
And so, in a world full of sin and pain, terrorism, sickness, famine, abuse, sorrow, heartache, murder and lies I have strapped myself to the front of this crazy speeding train for the rest of the agonizing journey. I am reaching out, in anticipation, as far as I can, thinking to myself, “come quickly Lord Jesus, we can’t take much more of this!” and all the while the tracks are growing shorter and the light ever more glorious!