As with everyone else in this world COVID-19 has been in front of me quite a bit. Every interaction seems to have it threading through and every decision seems to have it lingering around. Everything from going out to food to going out for a walk – and everything in-between. And naturally, as a Christian, this pandemic and disease seems to hit us especially hard as we navigate feelings, emotions, and fears. And while these feelings and fears are natural it’s also UNnatural for us because we are called to navigate this world, this time, and yet realize that something better awaits us. And yet it’s hard. My head and my heart speak of one and yet my emotions and fears cry out differently at times. It’s like the worst game of tug-o-war ever!
Randy Alcorn has a book called “Heaven” and in it, he quotes the great theologian Herman Bavinck on his idea of resurrection and continuity. He writes, “God’s honor consists precisely in the fact that he redeems and renews the same humanity, the same world, the same Heaven, and the same earth that have been corrupted and polluted by sin. Just as anyone in Christ is a new creation in whom the old has passed away and everything has become new (2 Cor 5:17), so this world passes away in its present form as well, in order out of its womb, at God’s word of power, to give birth and being to a new world. The New Earth will still be Earth, bu ta changed earth. It will be converted and resurrected, but it will still be Earth and recognizable as such.”
He goes on to say that “if we don’t grasp redemptive continuity, we cannot understand the nature of our resurrection.” Because if we do not recognize continuity (the fact that not only are WE resurrected but so too is the original earth God created) the fact is there is little point in speaking about the resurrection at all.
So why did I share this?
I, like many people, have been thinking a lot about tomorrow – what it will look like, how people will change and HAVE changed, and how we will continue to live. I’ve enjoyed seeing “good news” come out as people have been making the best of this and serving one another with love. I’ve enjoyed seeing the patience people had, the grace we’ve been affording one another, and the kindness we’ve given – and yet I’ve also been hurt by the distance we’ve needed, some self-loathing and self-love that has also come out, and that people’s patience is now beginning to dwindle. So while we’ve done some good there is some patience that is now not as defined and deep as we all had back on COVID-LOCKDOWN day 1. And this really makes me long for tomorrow, but even more so it makes me long for THE tomorrow – the everlasting, eternal, tomorrow where distance will not be kept, where people like me that are touchy-feelers and huggers can hug, when words can be expressed within actual earshot and presence and not zoom or phones or emails. When pandemic and fear and the wondering of food and paychecks and rent will not consume us.
- I long to take walks with my wife and kids and dog and not have to wear a mask (it’s hard wearing a mask AND having glasses and a beard! – IT’S NOT COMFORTABLE OR CONVENIENT TO ITCH AND FOG UP YOUR GLASSES ALL AT THE SAME TIME)
- I miss, and long, to have people over as we break bread, have a pint, roast marshmallows, and just laugh together.
- I miss having a cup of coffee with a brother or sister as we talk about life and catch up.
- I miss YOU.
And one of the things that is striking is the fear that happens right now – and from Christians specifically. We can easily get caught up in routines and comfortability and what we want. We can easily get caught up in our past and the comforts we have and long to have again – as well as the unknown of tomorrow. And that unknown is the scary one. The truth is, as Scripture proclaims, WE AREN’T promised a tomorrow that looks like today (James 4:13-15). We aren’t promised our comforts, our jobs, our routines – or anything else that many of us long for.
But we are promised a future (Phil 3:20)
We are promised a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Peter 1:3-4; Rom 15:13; Titus 2:13)
We are promised a redeemed life, creation, and cozmos (Acts 3:21)
Once more we are in times that none of us can ever remember and very few people are still alive today that have been through something of this magnitude. And it’s scary and it can lock us into a place we don’t want to be – but that’s just it. We aren’t supposed to be here. This disease will not take place in the future and when we begin to live into its fear we begin to do something that isn’t right or good. Now, this doesn’t mean we are to ignore it and say, “my hope is in tomorrow so if I die…then so be it!” That’s just stupid (I already try to play that card with my wife and it never works – I just get yelled at). But it DOES mean we need to recognize our fears, to announce them, and to release them to God. BUT it also means we must remember that what we feel today, what we experience today, is not only not the final reality but let us seek the glory of tomorrow and look THERE and not HERE. And that’s hard to do – I’ll admit it. It’s hard to do when we are fearful and we don’t know what to do…and that while we are NOT promised tomorrow we ARE promised eternity. A place of restoration and hope – FOR ALL THE COSMOS.
So maybe we need to begin by announcing, and releasing, our fears? Maybe we need to recognize that which seems to hold us here so we can live there (heaven and the New Earth) here today.
So what of all of this do you fear?