Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Heaven

The Myth of Rest

This morning I woke up tired. Yesterday I woke up tired. The day before that… well, you get the idea.

But it didn’t used to be like this. I remember the day. It was sometime near the beginning of my second year of seminary. We had been through a move, renovations, pregnancy, having our first daughter, and me starting a new job at the church, all within the past year. I was taking a full course-load at TBS (including languages) and working near full-time at the church with a newborn at home. The year before I had taken about 1.5 times the full course-load because I wanted to get a running start. It was a good thing I did.

I woke up that morning and I was tired, frustrated, and angry. The world seemed at that moment, dark (because it was… it was before 6am in a basement apartment in the winter in Canada) and hopeless. I was drained. While my spirits weren’t necessarily broken, my body was, and my mind was too. I wanted to give up. There just simply wasn’t enough time to get everything done. I knew there was no stopping, and there would be no catching up any time soon. What I didn’t realize then was that there would be no catching up from that point on… probably for good.

There’s never enough time for sleep. Never enough time to finish all my jobs. Never enough time to stop and rest.

Vacations have come and gone and seasons have been busier than others, but overall I’m still tired. One daughter has turned into three, our basement apartment turned into one house (with lots of renovations) and then another house, part-time pastoring turned into full-time pastoring and church-planting, and I’ve gotten older. Life has not slowed down. I don’t think it will.

Being tired used to scare me. It used to paralyse me. It used to make me panic and wonder, ‘when will I ever get the rest I need?!’ Now I try, on my better days, to remember that the tiredness and lack-of-rest that I feel is part of being in this fallen creation. It is a result of sin. But it won’t last forever. In the New Heavens and the New Earth I will know the rest for which I was created. I’ll sleep then.

In the mean time, I’m thankful for the gospel of Jesus which speaks to weary, performance-worn people.

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Thankfully, though the work is hard this side of eternity, Jesus promises true rest in the life to come. And in the meantime he gives grace and provides strength. And he lets us feel our tiredness and our weakness for our good. After all, I must remember that there is only one who does not sleep or slumber. And my tiredness serves to remind me daily that I’m not that one.

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** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

The Birth of Longing

There was a time when I used to think, ‘I hope Jesus comes back… but not until…’ and then I’d fill in the blank with something I really hoped to do in this life. That seems like a long time ago now. Somewhere along the way over these 30 years I have realized that the joys of this life (even the pure and the good ones) are mere shadows of the reality for which we were created.

Everything here is a shadow, a testimony, a teaser, pointing us to the greater reality of unfettered freedom and unadulterated pleasure in uncompromisingly personal relationship with the one who created us for himself. We were not created for this broken world. Everything here that gives joy points us forward to the fulfilment of that longing on the day when we will fully know, even as we are fully known.

Mountains, oceans, valleys, magnificent animals, music, poetry, the climax of a narrative, the unfolding of a mystery, the moment of learning, relationships, husbandry, fatherhood, church membership, passing seasons of beautiful intimacy with brothers and sisters in Christ, intangible and inexpressible moments of close communion with the Triune God; all of it has functioned to one end: to create in me the birth of longing. Longing for the day when it will not end. Longing for the day when the feeling won’t pass the very moment you realize it’s there. Longing for the uninterrupted gaze and the unending contemplation of the One who is Beauty and Wisdom and Joy and Life.

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
— C.S. Lewis (Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold)

Cottage Sunset

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** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

What Did Jesus Say About Heaven?

Have you ever asked that question? Was it easy to find an answer?

While the doctrine of heaven may be firmly established by using the whole of the revealed will of God, it is interesting to me how little Jesus himself says about heaven–at least in its future aspects.

For the most part, when Jesus talks about heaven, he is not concerned with what it will be like, but rather, (1) How you get yourself ‘in’, and, (2) the fact that it has begun now–and we are called to live in light of that reality.

It’s almost like if you asked Jesus, ‘What is heaven like?’ he’d answer, ‘You’re asking the wrong question.’ He would correct us, ‘Don’t think about heaven as some ethereal future hope–ask whether or not you have reason to believe that it is your hope.’ And then he would add, ‘Heaven isn’t an ethereal future hope–it is a present reality that begins when you live under my kingly reign now and you begin to experience my blessings now.’

All that being said, if we query the text of the gospels, I think we can find some details about the future reality of heaven from Jesus’ teaching.

  • Heaven is a place. According to the Sermon on the Mount (in particular, Matthew 6) and John 14, heaven is an actual place–not bodiless beings floating through clouds. It is the place where God is and his presence is made known to bless.
  • Heaven is a place of treasures. Again, from Matthew 6 we learn that the treasures and rewards we store up in heaven now will never be taken from us and they will never cease to give joy.
  • Heaven is a place prepared for us. In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of heaven as the kingdom which has been prepared for us from before the creation of the world. Again, then, we see it is a literal place where God is intent on blessing us.
  • Heaven is a place of joy and reward. Still in Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable where those who have been faithful with what they were given are commended by their master. The blessed words are this: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
  • Heaven is a place of justice. In Luke 16, while teaching an entirely different point altogether, Jesus tells the story of two men who receive a just reversal of fortunes on the other side of judgement.
  • Heaven is a place of single community. Luke 20 (cf. Matthew 22) teaches that humans will not be married or given in marriage in heaven. That being said, we are not community-less beings, but rather, we are like the angels, in fellowship with one another and ultimately, with God.

Can you think of any more places where Jesus talks about heaven? Any other details that can be gleaned from various places?

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