Archive for May, 2015

The Doorway

Recently I was reacquainting myself with a timeless favorite, the “Anne of Green Gables” series.  One portion of the third book always stirs me to thinking about my perspective on life and eternity.  One of Anne’s childhood chums is dying of tuberculosis.  Anne is home for the holidays and visits her friend regularly in her last days.  Ruby confesses to Anne that she is afraid of dying.  She knows she is going to heaven, and even though it is supposed to be beautiful, it won’t be what she is used to.

“It was sad, tragic-and true!  Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to.  There had been nothing in her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or to make the life to come seem to her anything but alien and unreal and undesirable.”

“‘I can’t help it,” said Ruby pitifully.  “Even if what you say about heaven is true-and you can’t be sure-it may be only that imagination of yours-it won’t be JUST the same.  It CAN’T be.  I want to go on living HERE.  I’m so young, Anne.  I haven’t had my life.  I’ve fought so hard to live-and it isn’t any use-I have to die-and leave EVERYTHING I care for.’  Anne sat in a pain that was almost intolerable.  She could not tell comforting falsehoods; and all that Ruby said was so horribly true.  She WAS leaving everything she cared for.  She had laid up her treasures on earth only; she had lived solely for the little things of life-the things that pass-forgetting the great things that go onward into eternity, bridging the gulf between the two lives and making of death a mere passing from one dwelling to the other-from twilight to unclouded day.”

It sobers me to think of a position such as Ruby had.  There was little substance to her life.  She had no acquaintance with heavenly things, no enriching and deepening of her earthly experiences with the hues and colors of eternity.  She had never lived for something bigger than herself, something that would last after she had gone.  She had never experienced the kind of awe that leaves you gasping for breath and knowing that you just tasted something of a God and a realm beyond your understanding.

Yet I don’t believe the answer is to despise this life or the little joys in it.   I believe it is God’s desire that we embrace our life here.  It is an adventure, a journey, an absolute one time occurrence, a chance for eternity to be expressed through you in a physical dimension.  Never again will you be a human body and soul with an eternal spirit, living in a temporal world.  What if we were to consider our lives, in the largest sense, as one continuous existence?  Remember this.  Your spirit has been around for eternity past.  God took it from the light of His own essence.  Your body and soul are earthly.  They will someday pass away.  But your spirit will not! (And some may argue that your soul is also eternal).  The “lifetime” of your spirit is unbroken.  It only changes location.  It came from heaven, it lives a unique adventure on earth and then returns to heaven.  So, why do we insist on separating so completely our existence on earth from our heavenly origin?

Some take the view that the earthly life is just to be endured until we die or are mercifully raptured.  Why?  Is that really what God intended when He made the earth and put us on it?  Why would He bother to make us human if all He wanted was spiritual beings?  He could have made more angels.  For some great and mysterious reason, He wanted creatures that would live in this kind of realm.  The longing for what is heavenly is right and good.  And I know that suffering causes us to look to the afterlife as a welcome relief.  But why do we live as though eternity is only somewhere we can go?  Have we forgotten that there is a piece of it inside of us?  Is there any possibility that we are supposed to, by God’s design, unpack and express this amazing experience of living in the temporal and the eternal at the same time?

How do you view your life?  For me, the point is not that I cease from all the joys and pleasures of life.  The things that Ruby enjoyed were not wrong in themselves.  But she had not the balancing weight of a soul that knows there is a deeper, sweeter well than the one of life’s little pleasures.  It is my hope to live a life that carries the fragrance of the eternal, like a traveler who comes in with the scent of the forest clinging to his clothes.  When the time comes for me to cross the threshold of that great Doorway between heaven and earth, I hope to feel the deepest thrill of joy and anticipation; having already tasted of what is yet to come.  Let not the heavenly realms be so unfamiliar to us here.

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