living in the pacific northwest can be so incredibly wonderful at times (skimming across a snow covered mountain in the winter, and enjoying the ‘just right’ warmth of summer), but it can also be quite painful at other times. the fall sometimes seems to stretch on, and on, and on. leaving us to wonder if we’ll ever again see a break from the persistent rain, if we’ll ever again experience the heat of sunshine, the clear blue skies that highlight snowcapped mountains in the horizon and never-ending evenings by the water.
i’ve been feeling this way a lot lately, longing for the sun. and I know others have been too. you can see it on their faces. we all need it.
the sun and The Son
i found myself walking downtown the other day, in the rain, of course, wishing for the sun to just come out and put an end to this weather. and that’s when this parallel came to my mind. the parallel of our longing for the sun and The Son. we all do it, believers and non-believers alike, whether we realize it or not.
on more than one occasion i’ve found myself looking around at the pain in this world and just feeling overwhelmed. i feel it when i come across the homeless man or woman welcoming the morning on the side of the street after spending the night resting their head on the concrete. i feel it when i see the disabled person forced to face a life immobilized, in a wheelchair, living life out in a world that idealizes being fit and active, and how much they must crave what i take for granted every morning, being able to stand on my own two feet. i felt this way when we visited cabo san lucas on our honeymoon, and i saw the extreme disparity between wealth and poverty, immaculate waterfront resorts and shantytowns literally within a stone’s throw of each other, and how each day these locals have to beg and barter with the vacationers (tourists like me) just to get by. and, thanks to the blessing of my birthplace, i have experienced very, very little of the pain that actually goes on in this world.
it’s not supposed to be like this
it’s during these times that i find myself thinking, “it’s not supposed to be like this.” i know i am not the only one who feels this way. believers and non-believers have to sense this disparity between our current state and the way things should be. and it’s during these times in my life that the longing for God’s return, the coming of His kingdom, is overwhelming.
i realize what an easy fix this seems like, “sure, play the God card. He’ll make everything better, right?” well, yeah, that’s what i am banking on. His word tells us that He is light, that in Him, there is no darkness. and right now, i can tell you, i am so sick of the darkness. i am so sick of the pain, the pain that comes from loved ones making poor choices and wanting better for them, the pain of being face-to-face with poverty and having to wonder, “why in the world did God decide to bless my life so that i never have to experience such hunger?”
so yes, i do lean on His return as the solution. i long for His return because i believe His promise that at that time, we will no longer be faced with the pain, it will only be a terrible memory.
C.S. Lewis paints a beautiful picture of His return by putting it this way:
“the bad dream will be over: it will be morning.” (Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.200)
and yet, when i really begin looking forward, anticipating and even longing for His return, it’s at these times that i feel most torn. why? because i realize what His return means. it means that for some of us, it will be only light, only goodness as we are brought into His presence. the Source of our greatest joy. yet, for others, the very same event means the coming of our worst fears, that we’ll be held accountable for each of our decisions, those decisions we wished we could take back, knowing we cannot. and the resulting punishment, i fear, will be much greater than we would ever dare to imagine.
that’s why i am torn. because on the one hand, there is nothing i want more than the coming of His light, and the resulting end of this darkness. yet, i realize the instant that happens, many of the people in my life whom i love so very much will be faced with a surprise so great, so excruciating, that i cannot begin to imagine the sorrow that day will bring.
“for this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. it will be too late then to choose your side. there is no longer use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. that will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realized it before or not. now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. it will not last for ever. we must take it or leave it.” (Lewis, Mere Christianity, p.65)
here comes the sun
and that’s when i realize just why He allows us to linger in this painful state, in this darkness. he’s giving us just a little more time, just one more opportunity to choose His side. to choose His light.