Time magazine recently featured not a cover girl but a cover baby. The cover proclaims, “This Baby Could Live To Be 142 Years Old.”
Hmm. He’s such a cute little kid. I find it hard to believe that the little guy could have already committed such a dastardly deed that he’d deserve the kind of fate Time seems determined to pin on him.
I’m kidding. Mostly.
But, really, though long life can be a beautiful blessing, I’m not sure 142 sounds all that appealing. (The Bible’s Methuselah, at 969, has long had my heartfelt sympathy.)
I suppose if all your eggs are stuck in this earthly basket, hanging onto the basket with knuckles white might make some sense. But you can hang on too tight. Left to themselves too long, eggs get rotten and go bad. (I remember one that made its presence known behind a couch in our house six months after an indoor Easter egg hunt.) For those who, loving this amazing gift called life, trust that the Giver has the next life more than amply covered, enough here really is enough here.
I’m in no hurry to go on, but death worries me not at all. More daunting is the act of dying itself, but I figure God’s grace for each day will be present on that one as well.
I doubt it will happen this way, but if I had my choice, I’d like to be 90-something and skiing down a beautiful mountain at the end of a great family ski trip. I’d like for onlookers reporting my demise to say, “We just don’t know what the ol’ geezer was thinking! He took the biggest ski jump of all and just before he nailed that tree he had the biggest smile on his face. And this is weird—he seemed to be singing at the top of his lungs!”
Seriously, the older I get, the more real heaven becomes to me, and the more I understand the early Christians who prayed with deep feeling, “Lord Jesus, come quickly!”
I’d love for that to happen before my next breath. Outside of the Bible, the writing of C. S. Lewis has most convinced me that if we’re thinking of heaven with any sense of loss at all, we’re mistaken.
God’s people won’t lose anything. We’ll gain everything! The true essence of everything that gives glimmers of joy here will not only be present there but glorious beyond imagination. No muted glory there. Glory full on. Beauty. Joy. Love. Laughter. Nothing God makes that is good is ever lost.
God’s people can have St. Paul’s confidence that to remain here means fruitful labor, but to go on and be with the Lord is “gain” in every way! And I think we can be sure that having a genuine hope in what is coming hereafter will always make us more useful, more hopeful, more joyful right here right now.
I hope that cover baby grows to love life and the Lord who gave him the gift. If he learns where real hope lies, he’ll have learned what counts vastly more than counting years.
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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.