Monday, March 7, 2011

Eternity is stamped on our hearts

I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

Do you ever simultaneously want two opposite results? You want two things that you know cannot coexist simultaneously, and can't quite get your mind to choose one.

I've been feeling that way often lately. You see, I look at the world around us and get the sense that we are in the midst of what Christ called the "last days." Christ said that in the last days, many will come in His name, deceiving those who follow them. {Check.} You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. {Check.} Nation will rise against nation. {Check.} There will be famines and earthquakes. {Check.} He said these are the "beginning of birth pains." (See Matthew 24:4-8.)

I've read Daniel. I've read Matthew. I've read Revelation. I know what God has revealed of His ordained plan for the end of the age. And so there is a part of me - the eternal part - that is excited about this. It means that Christ is returning soon! And that, finally, the pain, suffering, and hardships of this life will be erased and replaced with the glorious eternity in God's presence for His children. That is a glorious thing, my friends! Listen to how John described it:

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.' ~Revelation 21:1-5

Hallelujah! Friends, how can we not leap for joy at these words??!! Glory be to God, who truly makes ALL things new!

I can't wait for that, can you?

And yet...

Here's the other half of my truth. As much as I do earnestly long for Christ's coming, I must confess that part of me hopes it is not too soon.

You see, the non-eternal part of me is looking forward to being a wife come June. It is looking forward to having children with my soon-to-be husband. I want to be a mother, to grow old with my husband. I want to serve God and raise up children to do so as well. I want to run my race. (And I sort of hope that the race won't be cut short before any of those other things happen.)

At first, I felt quite guilty about these feelings. How could I wish that Christ's return be delayed? Do I really want this depraved world longer? Well, no. But I've coming to realize that, when it comes to my faith, both desires are ok. God made me not just eternal - He not only set eternity in my heart - but He also made me temporal. Physical. And He has been shaping my desires for this life as well as my desires for Him.

I think the only thing to do is to expect Him to come, to hope for His coming, but to never forget the race that He has given you to do in the meantime. He knows His plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and He has given each of us a purpose. So I will do what I know He has told me to do - to proclaim His word, to worship Him, to grow in faith, to take care of my family - and let Him worry about whether He'll wait until after I have kids or not. :-) I guess this is one area where trusting the sovereignty of God is quite liberating.

Expect Christ every day. Prepare for Him. Be one of the wise brides, and keep the oil in your lamp. But don't use that as an excuse for neglecting what God has planned for you to do before He returns. And rejoice that, one day, you will enter into the glorious presence of your God and never have to leave again!

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