See every little flower […] with outstretched head stand expectant: Something more than the sun, greater than the light, is coming, is coming
–none the less surely coming that it is long upon the road!
What matters today, or tomorrow, or ten thousand years to Life himself, to Love himself!
He is coming, is coming, and the necks of all humanity are stretched out to see him come!
Every morning will they thus outstretch themselves, every evening will they droop and wait–until he comes…
[George MacDonald, Lilith]
When it comes to the end of time, of this earth as we know it, Christians love debating dates–the whens of events that we speculate over. Often–at least for me–these arguments overshadow the joyous certainty that Jesus is coming, and that with Him (somehow more gloriously than we can imagine) will come redemption: a setting to right of our bodies, of the earth and skies above, of the life around us. Creation, Paul said, stands on tiptoe, craning its neck in expectation of the new creation work that God has planned. We see sign posts of this in the sunrise, in springtime, in the sunlight after storms, in the times when we wake from sleep, rested and renewed.
As I’ve studied this hope over the last week, I’ve been struck by how prevalent the call to remember and look ahead are in the New Testament. This resurrection hope is not peripheral to our faith, but central–with its foundation in Jesus’ own resurrection. It’s not singing “I’ll fly away.” It’s living in this day that God has given me, knowing that one day, the work, joys, hardships and pleasures will find their full meaning in resurrected, redeemed bodily living in an earth full of a beauty of which the current beauty is but a hint. In every struggle against sin, every effort to love and give of ourselves, every thing we endure, the motivation to continue lies ahead in the hope of the New Creation: not just the resurrection of our bodies but above all participating in God’s glory: enjoying the full expression of Who he is (Life, Love, Grace, Purity, Wholeness…) with no hindrance or limitation.
Perhaps instead of arguing with each other about the whens, Christians would be better employed imagining what lies ahead, based on what we have been given in scripture. Such speculation must serve to whet our appetite and bring us to a right tiptoed expectancy, as long as we remember that our speculations are at best a wavering image pointing us toward a reality more wondrous than we can begin to imagine.
Here’s a start: In Huchmoot 2012, a conference for Christian artists of all types (and appreciators of art), Thomas McKenzie, Jennifer Trafton, and Pete Peterson presented a session entitled “Tales of the New Creation.” You can listen to the podcast, divided into Parts 1, 2, and 3, by clicking the hyper-linked numbers. May what you hear inspire you to hope.