Friday, November 25, 2011

the facts of life

September is one of my favorite months.  The crisp air seems to deepen the intensity of the sapphire sky and every leaf on every tree stands out in sharper definition than in the blurry, hazy summer.  But even in this beautiful season, no matter which window I look out or which forest path I walk, I cannot close my eyes to the evidence of the curse all around me.  The trees I love are afflicted by destructive beetles, fungus, or parasites.  The hawk I admire as it surveys its kingdom is searching for a defenseless rodent to kill.  Even the soil I tread is layers and layers of death.

I go outside to enjoy creation and I am bombarded on every side by reminders of God's curse on the earth (Genesis 3:14-19).  I spend time with God's people and find myself disheartened by their earthly priorities and selfishness. I try to retreat inside myself to escape the sorrows and sins I see around me... and it is there within my heart that I see the Curse manifested most fully.  I can't even scratch the surface of my own wickedness (Jeremiah 17:9), yet when I catch a glimpse of even the edges of my ways I am overtaken by horror and unspeakable shame.

I was rescued from the penalty of my sin at a very early age, during those years of my history that have no place in my memory.  I can't remember life without a hope of heaven and knowledge of Christ's love.  And yet, I read passages like Romans 1 about the unregenerate heart and its description eerily beats in time with the rhythms of my own.  Covetous, envious, striving, gossipping, proud, boasters? Disobedient to parents? Undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful? (Romans 1:29-31) This doesn't sound like the description of a lost soul as much as it sounds like a description of myself.

Sometimes I can ignore it, but at other times the Curse and Consequences of sin weigh on my soul like a heavy, stinking breath of death.  Every part of me is diseased with this curse in the same way that every ash tree outside my window is being ravaged by beetles.

But there is a difference between me and that tree. The tree is being killed as a byproduct of man's sin: the Curse of Death that blankets the world.  I was born killed by this Curse, but my Rescuer, Redeemer, and Resurrection has raised me to life. And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.  (Ephesians 2:1)

I have been forgiven, made new, resurrected.  Yes, I am still trapped in a cursed body of death, but within this body is a new heart, hidden in Christ until Christ who is my life appears (Colossians 3:3-4).  And beyond the worldwide evidence of death is a higher, transcendent reality of LIFE that exists even now!  When time is stripped away the ash tree, the hawk, the rodent, and I will all understand who we were truly created to be apart from the curse's chains.  We all groan together with pain and impatience for our true reality that awaits us, but not without hope (Romans 8:22-23).  We must look beyond the present evidence and remember the facts of LIFE.
  These simple words from an artist I admire sum up the hope that I am trying to express.

Ashes, ashes, we fall down
It always feels too soon
But when we walk on golden ground
All will be made new
[ Lyrics from: ]
Life is but a dream at best
Morning's coming soon
Kingdom come will bring us rest
All will be made new

All sorrows and sighs
Will fade away into the night
And all will be made new

All will be made new

"Kingdom Come", JJ Heller

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