I went to a funeral for friend this afternoon. He died at age 55. A month or so ago I attended the funeral for a guy I hung out with in high school; he died at 50. I still feel like I’m too young to be burying people that are close to my own age, but I guess it’s a natural part of life. Our bodies aren’t meant to last forever, at least not our earthly bodies. Our heavenly bodies… Now that’s another story altogether.
I don’t know when it started, and I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem, but at funerals I often catch myself being slightly envious of the one who has passed away… That should probably be qualified a bit more; envious of fellow Christians who have passed away. Envious because I know (if only just a little) the glory they enjoy after leaving this life behind. Meanwhile I’m still stuck in this aging old tent. Our bodies, like tents, aren’t made to last for ever nor for long-term habitation. Try as I might, mine will only last another 40 years or so longer, tops (probably less.) But I have consolation that as this body moves toward its end, a new life is developing that will one day be fully realized in the presence of my Lord:
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Although I am admittedly anxious to get to that celebration, I have no intention of hastening my date with eternity. I am content with God’s plan for my life, whether His exit plan for me involves a fatal run-in with a cement truck tomorrow, or a long convalescence through my 70’s or 80’s or 90’s… I’ll live the rest of my days in gratitude for the blessings He’s sent my way, especially for the loving wife and great kids that I so don’t deserve.
But still there’s that, something… that envy that makes me long for the things to come. It’s a hope for things to come; not a hope, as in “I hope it will happen”, but a hope as in something that is sure, yet is just out of reach and will arrive at a time I don’t know. As C.S. Lewis so aptly put it,
We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we wanted before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all.
That’s right; while I am, this — that built-in longing for what has been promised and will be — just is. I can’t wait for Heaven, but I will.