There is no life... no life without its hunger
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly
But when You come, and I am filled with wonder
Sometimes I think I glimpse eternity
"You Raise Me Up"-- Selah
A picture can convey so many things: joy, sadness, fear, humor, pain. Pictures can document a child's growth through the years, or serve as evidence in court. Soldiers so often carry pictures of spouses or children into war... a reminder of what's worth fighting for, hope for a brighter day and happy reunions. Pictures are so valuable to all of us. How many thousands of photos did we see on television in the days following September 11, 2001? And as we've heard countless times, "A picture is worth a thousand words."
But can it really be possible to catch a glimpse into eternity by a look at one photograph?
I caught just such a glimpse last week. The occasion for the photo was indeed a happy one... dear friends of ours had a baby. The picture would be special in anybody's book. Mom & Dad in the delivery room, holding their newborn baby daughter. This picture represented even so much more.
Our friends had lost another precious baby girl several years earlier, and more recently also suffered a miscarriage. They had truly walked through fire. The grief had been staggering, the heartbreak indescribable. This new tiny baby was the answer to so many prayers. She represented life, hope, joy, a new beginning.
As joyful as this scene was, as believers we know that it also reminds us of so much more that is to come. My friends know that not only do they have their new blessing, but they will also be reunited one day with their children that went on to heaven before them.
There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more
We'll see Jesus face to face
"There Will Be A Day"-- Jeremy Camp
Years ago, I was trying to comfort a friend who'd lost his wife and young daughter when their car was struck by a drunk driver. I gave him an excerpt from a special book, "Things Unseen", by a pastor, Mark Buchanan. In it, he tells a story of a man whose wife ran away with their small daughter. This father searched and searched for his daughter, and never gave up hope of finding her again. When she became an adult, they were finally reunited. He was happy and relieved, but he always felt that something was missing. He was heartbroken over all the moments he'd lost with his little girl. Pastor Buchanan gently reminds us in the book that, as Christians, one day that father would get to tuck his daughter in at all those lost nightly story times; he'd get to be there for that first date, prom, college graduation, her wedding. Those moments were not lost forever. A day was coming when all would be restored.
"Behold! I am making all things new!" the Lord says in Revelation 21:5. As many different pastors have pointed out, God did not say "I am making all new things!". He sent Jesus for this very reason-- so that all things might be made new in Him.
Also in Revelation, the apostle John describes a new heaven and a new earth:
"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." Revelation 21:4
For the believer in Christ, life will be as it was created to be: the answer to all our deepest longings. A life where all is not forgotten... we don't just "start over". Instead all is renewed, resurrected, restored... all things are perfect, they are made new.
We are not longing for an unknown future. We are longing for a new past. Not just returning to September 10, 2001, but that day as a perfect day... all days as they were created to be lived.
And until that day comes, until Christ returns for us, we are so grateful for the reminders of what heaven will be like... the tiny glimpses along life's way.
The greatest love that anyone could ever know
That overcame the cross and grave to find my soul
And 'til I see You face to face, and grace amazing takes me home,
I'll trust in You.
"Till I See You"-- Hillsong United