Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thoughts on Eternity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about eternity and what heaven will be like. I’m not really sure why and it’s not really been so much thinking about my own mortality or anything like that. It’s been more a sense of wonder and curiosity than anything morbid. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older and can look back and see where life has been a struggle and realize things are not as they should be and the promise that God will restore all things gives me hope.

But also, I can look back and see glimpses of heaven in this life. Things like the close bond I have with my wife and kids, watching the sunrise over the mountains in the pure silence of nature, listening to beautiful music, etc. These are only small glimpses of what is to come and I can only imagine how much more beautiful those things will be when they are not tainted by the blackness of the fall and sin.

I play basketball with a group of guys from church every Thursday. A couple of weeks ago as I was driving home I was struck with the idea that not only are we friends now, but we will be friends throughout eternity. I realize that our bodies will only allow us to play basketball for so many years and we will eventually have to stop, but that someday we will be able to play again and share our love of sports and competition throughout eternity.

I also thought about my small group bible study at church, where my wife and I have shared so much of our lives and built relationships that have helped us grow and given us a sense of community. We’ve laughed and cried together for a lot of years, sometimes at the same time. We’ve celebrated and mourned together through all that life has thrown at us. It’s exciting to think that those relationships will continue for eternity and only grow stronger and deeper as the shackles of sin fall off.

Lately I've been able to connect with old friends through Facebook that I've not seen in a long time. It's been a lot of fun catching up with those people that have touched my life in one way or another throghout the years. Perhaps another glimpse of heaven.

Finally, I thought about my wife and kids and the joys and trials we've been through together and will continue to go through. It's comforting to know that our relationship as a family will continue into eternity and only grow stronger. I believe God put us together for an eternal purpose.

I don’t know exactly what heaven will be like, but the fact that we will be able to experience the fullness of God is truly amazing and is my source of hope when life is a struggle. When I was younger I always pictured heaven as kind of a dreamlike state of mind. But the more I think about it, I think it will be more real that this life could ever be.

God Bless.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Train is Bound for Glory

I'm a big movie buff and an even bigger music fan. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become especially interested in Folk/Americana music. That being said, I watched a wonderful movie last night on the early life of Woody Guthrie, called Bound for Glory (released in 1976). For those not familiar with his life, Woody grew up and spent the early part of his adult life in the "dust bowl" in Oklahoma and Texas. I won't go into too much detail, but during the Great Depression in the 30's he left Texas and hopped on a freight train headed to California with other migrant workers looking for work, along the way he found his voice as a songwriter and become an advocate for the poor working class, of which he was a part.

I was really impressed by how, once he began to gain notoriety as a musician, he stuck by his principles and refused to give in to those, including his own wife, who wanted him to tone down his message in order to make him more marketable to the general public. This ultimately cost him a regular, good paying job at a time when jobs were very hard to come by. He could have become a very rich man, but instead stayed true to his convictions and continued to speak out against the oppressive land owners and others that took advantage of the migrant workers by grossly underpaying them. He continually risked his own life to help them unionize and to provide them hope by being their voice when they had none.

As all of us born under the curse, however, he wasn't a perfect man by any means. In addition to numerous affairs, he would often take off for weeks or months at time to "ride the rails" and connect with those he was an advocate for, abandoning his wife and kids without notice and leaving them with no means of financial support.

Still, I understand the tension that he felt between pursuing his passion and being the husband, father, and provider for his family that he should have been. As the movie portrays, this was something he wrestled with as well, ultimately choosing, however, to go his own way. I found myself rooting for him to find a way to strike that balance that we all strive for, but he never could.

Despite his flaws, he did provide a voice of hope to many and was an agent of change for the oppressed in his time. It’s amazing how God uses flawed people to accomplish His purposes. (I always think of King David from the Old Testament. Talk about a flawed individual (adultery, murder, etc.) and look how he was used by God.) The movie reminded me of how easy it is to just give in and go with the flow and how difficult it can be to stand up for what you believe in and fight injustice. I pray that God would grant me the strength to do the latter, but also give me the ability to be the husband and father that He has called me to be and that I desire to be.

This journey we’re on is seldom easy. But the struggle is often what makes us better people and what God uses to help us grow. When our focus is outside of ourselves, that’s when we truly find our voice.

God Bless.