“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (ESV)
I owe a number of debts to author John Eldredge. His collaboration with the late Brent Curtis, The Sacred Romance, revolutionized my perception of the character and the heart of God. His Wild At Heart came at just the right time in my life — and my sons’ lives — and altered the course of our lives in wonderful ways. This was what led me to initiate my sons into manhood, and what led ultimately to the creation of this blog.
In his latest book, All Things New, John unpacks the basis of our life’s hope — God’s promise to renew all things.
Is that a promise?
The text that informs the book is from the Revelation to John (the last book of the Bible). Here’s the vision as John the apostle reports it:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
A new heaven
Notice that the promise is for a new heaven and a new earth — and they are going to be joined in a way the current heaven and earth are not. My pastor explains that in the current heaven, Satan retains access to the presence of God, since he appears before the Lord in the first chapter of the book of Job. A new heaven is necessary to remove every trace of the evil one’s rebelliousness and deception.
A new earth
Recall that our original parents Adam and Eve lived in a paradise here on this earth. Their fall into sin marred this world irreparably, so a new earth is necessary to restore what was lost to its original splendor. I have to tell you, this is beyond exciting — way more interesting than a cloudy, harp-strewn wasteland with nothing but endless church services. And I like church. But imagine intimacy with God every moment as we explore and appreciate, and yes, worship Him while we scale mountains, sail oceans, and bask in absolute and unlimited beauty.
All things new
Jesus didn’t say, “I’m making all new things.” Our new and eternal home will be like earth, but with all the murder, hatred, greed, pollution, terrorism, disease, poverty, injustice, and corruption scrubbed away. It’s even better than that, because so many things we have and use now — including our careers — are compensations for what was damaged due to sin. Everything from sunscreen and insect repellent to fire engines to courtrooms, all these are intended to overcome the limitations sin imposes. It all goes away! And we get to be free for the first time. Imagine it!
Better still, as Eldredge explains, all our losses will be restored. Every injustice will be made right. Every wrong we suffered will receive divine vindication. God will do this out of His generous love.
Why I’m telling you
This reminder that God will make it all right has helped me enormously over the past three weeks. When I began thinking actively that God would make me whole in every way in His time, I felt myself began to relax and quit being so driven. As I meditated on His willingness and His ability to repair and restore anything broken, anything lost, I let go of these nagging doubts and fears. And when our family faced the devastating loss of my mother-in-law, I was able to see through the pain to the hope of an eternal reunion that was brighter than the grief we feel.
Use as directed
This is so different from the hackneyed idea of “pie in the sky, by and by,” because it doesn’t ignore the scars that sin leaves, and it doesn’t demand that we not grieve real loss, real pain. Instead, it places those wounds in a holy context, and into the hands of a loving God who gave His Son to redeem us and restore us.
This one’s for you
Please check out these scripture verses in-depth and see if what I’m saying is true. God Himself told John to write it down because He meant it. And if you agree with me, then ask yourself how much more audacious would you be for the Kingdom’s sake if you knew that ultimately, you couldn’t lose. What career decisions wold you take? What relationships would you pursue? What evil would you challenge? And would idols and seductions would you refuse?
My own experience has been that my greatest compromises have come when I doubted that God would come through for me. I repent of that slander against God’s heart, and I put myself in His hands. I trust that what happens to me in this life will come through His hands, and I trust Him to lead me and to guide the outcomes. All I want to do is to be faithful.