faith, Revelation

Punk in Paradise

Last week was lame. I was awakened at 3 am Tuesday with an am-I-dying? caliber stomach pain followed by nausea and violent vomiting at 4. The rest of Tuesday was spent on the sofa, dozing off and on, shivering under a pile of blankets.

100% out of commission.

I was about 60% useless on Wednesday. I didn’t even feel like reading.

But even though I felt varying degrees of punk all week, it was a good week.  My study of Revelation has me in heaven, and heaven is going to be good.

All good.

People sometimes say, “I hope Jesus doesn’t come back quite yet because I want to experience this or that first.” And I’m perplexed.

Because no good thing will be absent from the new heaven/new earth. Scripture says everything is going to be restored back to the way God intended. And Eden lacked nothing good.

It was all good and very good.

One woman said she will miss the butterflies.

Why won’t there be butterflies? Butterflies are good.

When I started following Jesus, at age 21, my youngest sister asked, “Are you going to lose your sense of humor?” I thought about it for a second and then gave an inspired answer, “Not if there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Only the bad stuff will be absent: Sickness, deception, worrying about dying, conniving, manipulation, things that disturb my peace in various ways.

Nothing will disturb our peace.

Imagine your day with all the good elements and none of the bad. Imagine your work, your relationships, yourself without any of the things that cause you the slightest stress.  Heaven.

In our crack-of-dawn leaders’ discussion yesterday, question #5 asked, “How would you describe the state of the world today? How does the Bible describe it, and how did it get this way.”

“Totally depraved…sinful…evil…,” were the popcorn answers that pinged around the circle for part a.

I looked down at what I had written on my answer sheet: “A mixture of dark and light, good and evil, beauty and blight.”

My answers agreed with the others on parts b and c of the question though:

Romans 8: frustrated, in bondage to decay, groaning for something better.

Genesis 3: deception, disobedience

But that first third of the question illustrated for me, once again, how indoctrinated we’ve become.

Totally depraved…sinful…evil….

Our well-worn answer betrays our eyes – which see beauty amidst the blight, our hearts – which witness love and kindness amidst the violence and cruelty, and even our songs.

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

We are evangelically taught, “the world is bad” and, therefore, it is. Totally.

The pastor called the children forward this morning, as always, before dismissing them to their classrooms. He reminded them that when they put a grape or a strawberry or a bite of peach into their mouths, and it tastes so good, that ability to taste is evidence of God’s love for them.  “Go out today and smell as many flowers as you can. That sweet aroma in your nose is God’s love for you. The whole world is revealing the love of God to us.”

Yes.

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