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Upward bound

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Revelation 21:1-5

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.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them ... He will wipe away 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.

"I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Everyone sometimes feels oppressed by their own thoughts, their own circumstances, their own feelings. And everyone is oppressed by the evil presence that inhabits the earth, which the Bible names Satan. This earth will pass away.

The Discovery Channel masterpiece "Planet Earth" has taken cameras, and subsequently viewers, into the tiniest worlds of insects and fish and plants. We catch glimpses of life in the jungle canopy and the depths of the sea. Cameras capture life in caves so deep photographers need parachutes to descend.

Does the beauty of Victoria Falls pass away? How about the magnificence of rainbows in the sunset over the Grand Canyon? If there is no longer any sea, where will the dolphins jump? And will there be no need for hunting? The wolf will lie down with the lamb. No more death? What will we all do?

In the New World, where there are no experiences that deserve grief, will we also lose the experience of relief and gratitude?

God spares nothing. "I am making everything new!" We have always called ourselves human "beings". But we live mostly as human "doings," catching only occasional epiphanies of what it means TO BE. The most basic verb of every language is also the most elusive.

No wonder my imagination skids and stumbles when I wonder how life looks in heaven. "The dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them." We will have no burdens for God to carry. Adam and Eve put on fig leaves and hid from God, and we've hidden ever since. No more. Kings, presidents and popes separate themselves from their subjects and live behind grand gates that lock at night. Not God.

"These words are trustworthy and true." Those two words themselves are ragged with misuse. A con man's favorite greeting? "Trust me!" And Pilate verbalized the question we all want to ask: "What is truth?" Skeptics seek to disprove everything. Is "absolutely true" even an acceptable category?

Obviously, we don't deserve God. Jesus said, "I am truth." That just isn't the way we talk. Or think. Thank God, He is making all things new.

I'm ready.

Lord, shut my mouth and open my eyes. Let me know your truth and let it set me free.

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