See Luminosity

Weightless

Weightless

It absolutely took my breath away.

Standing, alone, at the top of the snow-blanketed ski mountain, my breath made puffs in the frigid air – that is, until it was taken away. Lilac, rose, apricot and butter hues painted the never-ending sky, radiating their infusion into the deepening blue as far as I could see over the heavy snow-laden tree peaks.

It was magnificent, awe-inspiring – divine fingerprints tenderly creating art before my very eyes.

There was no way to see it and not see heaven.

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Ski Vacation

A week-long ski trip with my family to West Virginia was intended to revive, to restore – to allow us to revel in the family we have, in the aftermath of so much losing of the family we would like to have. Both I and my husband love to ski, and both of our children have become fairly competent skiers, as well, over the past couple of years.

It is probably our favorite activity to do together.

For me, there is little that rivals the joy of rocketing down the mountain over a powdery sheet of white, in the crisp mountain air. It is simply impossible to carry the weight of this world when your whole being is enveloped in the art of flying. Eyes open, muscles engaged, mind freed – skiing does, for me, what no other experience on this earth can do in the same way…

It releases me.

Stressors dissipate in the reflection of sunlight off of icicles. Relational annoyances become sublimated by mutual enjoyment. Breath I’ve been holding in the effort of putting one foot in front of the other gets replaced by the Creator’s invigorating frigid breezes. Insignificant, mundane, inappropriately “urgent” vagaries of daily life become overwhelmed by vastness, grandeur, majesty, and beauty. Weariness from suffering gets translated into a satisfying, strength-building fatigue of muscles working in synchronization, like physical music, creating the melody of S arcs down the slopes. The burden I usually carry becomes a wing that catapults me beyond the pain of this world into freedom, weightlessness.

I long to be weightless.

 

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Longing for Heaven

The longer I live, the more I grow weary of this world. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of joys, and I revel in them. But the more time I spend on this earth, the more pain and suffering I both experience and see in the experiences of others – and it makes me long for heaven.

“For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. Indeed, we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven, since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. And the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.” (2 Corinthians 5)

There are plenty of joys here, in this life, but they cannot compare with the joys that will be coming in the next. And there, in that one – there will be no pain.

I truly think it takes age and wisdom to get here. And, even more importantly than that – it takes suffering.

I am no longer the 20-year-old girl, ready to take on the world, full of life and exuberance and a healthy dose of cockiness. Life has humbled me, in many ways, and given me a much greater context through which to understand purpose, meaning, and importance. And, with it, has come a decreased focus and emphasis on this life.

Frankly, I can’t wait for heaven.

It is another benefit of suffering, for the Christian: our grip on this world gets loosened. The more we suffer, the more our focus shifts from the horizontal to the vertical. The more we suffer, the more our desires for the things of this world get gradually replaced by a desire for Him. Hebrews 11:12-14 says, of the great heroes of faith of the Bible:

“These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.”

They didn’t get everything they wanted out of this life, either. But they did learn to put their unrequited desire, their suffering and their lacking in the context of the larger picture of what was coming.

It becomes clearer to me, each passing day, how temporary this life is. More and more, I want my daily thoughts, action, and energy to be directed toward eternal things – toward the kingdom that will last forever. Many of the battles I would have fought, in younger years, I no longer care to fight because I realize they just don’t matter, in the long run. Many of the things that occupied my energy, in previous decades, have been replaced by fewer, much more significant ones.

 

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Carrying the Weight

Yet, I am still here.

1 Peter 2 says:

“Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.”

Yes, the fleshly war will be waged until I leave; this pull between the world in which I live and the world for which I was made. And, in that fight, is a constant battle for the focus of my soul.

Paul explained it like this:

“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)

And Jesus said it this way:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33).

I am going to be 40 years old, soon, and I want my life to count, to be meaningful, in the ways that really matter. Yes, I long for heaven more with each passing day, but I also have to engage with living here, well, while keeping eternity in my mind. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). There is one thing, in particular, that keeps me doing that:

“For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

The thing that keeps me going, that never lets me rest in my longing for heaven, is that last part: That I have to appear before the tribunal of Christ, to account for what I’ve done, in this life. Not for my eternal destiny – that was secured when I accepted Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and agreed to exchange my own right to myself for His right to me – but for my rewards in the next life. At the end, the richness of my experience of and responsibility in heaven will be determined by the person I become in this life.

That thought keeps me from simply lying down and riding it out until I get there.

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So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.”

So, one foot in front of the other. Each day, it is about seeking His presence in the right now, finding His purpose in the present moment, being pleasing to Him in the daily seemingly insignificances of life. It is the culmination of daily obedience that changes our character, that makes us worthy of the highest reward in God’s kingdom.

I want that reward. I want the sunset artistry, the rushing exhilaration, the overwhelming, fundamental “being found” that eternity with my Lord will bring.

I can bear the weight of this world, for now, because soon, forever…

I will be weightless.

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