Monday, January 1, 2018
The Best Thing About Jesus
“When the Worst Thing Becomes the Best Thing”
“The Best Thing About Christianity”
Do you remember Chariots of Fire?
Upsetting Warren Beatty’s Reds, it won the Oscar as Best Picture at the 54th Academy Awards in 1982.
It’s the story of two great British Olympians: Harold Abrahams who ran to overcome prejudice and Eric Liddell who ran for the glory of God.
Both won gold medals in the Paris games of 1924.
I think it’s among the most inspiring films of all time; and there are three scenes with Liddell that always stir my spirit to greater fidelity and provoke tears of joyful anticipation.
You’ll just have to watch the scene when Liddell overcomes fatigue and frustration to win the 400 meters. There is no way for me to explain it to you. It’s just like Paul described those moments of prayer in Romans 8 when no words can capture what we’re feeling and we’re left with groans and sighs and inarticulate delights as well as longings.
Liddell’s sense of irrepressible Beruf against the protests of his sister Jennie who did not understand how sports can be a devotional instrument for faith-sharing encourage us when folks don’t understand what the heaven we’re doing: “I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast; and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Pero, for me, especially in times looking back to the future, I understand Liddell’s total trust in God’s providence when asked if he had any regrets: “Regrets? Yes. Doubts? No!”
I was reminded of one of my greatest regrets while looking at some old Christmas cards around Thanksgiving and came across one that stopped me cold, brought tears to my eyes, drove me to my knees, and compelled confession coupled with cognizance that
some things are not fixed with/in time.
Time does not heal all wounds.
It was a handmade Christmas card from my youngest Matthew.
My guess is he was six or seven or eight or…
The cover has a tree with a star on top.
The message on the inside in his young yearning handwriting was almost unbearable to read even as I was overwhelmed by a love that I will never take for granted: “Merry Christmas Dad, Mom, and Dan. For Christmas, I would like to have family time at the house. Love BM Matt.”
It reminded me of sledding with Daniel when he was about that age; and how he kept yelling out as we went up and down and up and down and up and down, ‘I never want to stop doing this!”
“I never want to stop doing this!”
For some of us, the time left ain’t nearly as long as the time spent.
Hoping you’re not like me, I regret terribly the time that I have squandered, wasted, forfeited, overlooked, and lost with my family.
I regret not being with my mom, dad, sister, wife, sons, family, and friends more often than not.
No rationalizations work for me.
Talk of wouldas and couldas and shouldas wrench my gut.
While I find myself treasuring, savoring, and even coveting more time with family as the days of opportunity shorten, I also find myself praising and thanking God more and more and more that we are not limited by time in any of our relationships by grace through faith in Jesus.
Because of Jesus, we know we have forever to catch up and hug up and love up and be with each other.
As Jesus promised, no more wouldas or couldas or shouldas or pain or tears or crying any more.
That’s what He says comes to us by His grace and mercy immediately after the last breath in time.
Then we have forever to love like we never loved before.
Then all relationships are restored and everyone and everything about us become heavenly.
That’s why Simeon exclaimed upon seeing the Christ child and knowing all that He means forever, “Now I’m ready to die! I have seen Jesus! I have seen the Messiah! I have a Savior! There’s more! There’s infinitely more! Praise God! There’s heaven! We don’t end in time! We live forever and ever and ever with the whole family of God in paradise!”
That’s why Paul laughed and mocked death in time: “Death is swallowed up by the victory of Jesus! Who gets the last word? Not you, death! Nobody’s afraid of you, death, anymore! Thanks be to God who gives us the victory by grace through faith in Jesus!”
That’s why David Redding wrote in Getting Through the Night: The Book of Hope, “Anyone who feels sorry for a dead Christian, as though the poor chap were missing something, is himself missing the transfiguring promotion involved. This is what we mean by the good news. The place to be, the perfect place to build and settle down, is on the rise there following the last breath.”
Here’s the best thing about Christianity!
The worst thing that can happen to us in time is the best thing that can happen to us forever!
Death to time in/through Jesus is the key that unlocks paradise that lasts a heaven of a lot longer than, as David reminded us, the 70 or 80 years or more or less that we get on earth.
The worst thing (death in time) is followed by the best thing (eternal paradise in heaven) by grace through faith in Jesus.
Even the best experiences of the “good” entrusted to us in time at genesis are exceeded by His incalculably better than the best ever known in time after time in heaven.
That’s the best thing about Christianity!
Jesus has not limited us to time to experience all of His best for us that includes loves lost in time that are restored forever.
Father John Pisarcik explained how people who get that/Him are calmed in time as they anticipate what happens after time by grace through faith in Jesus in Ramblings of an Old Man: “Many years ago, I was chaplain to a religious order of women. One of the sisters in the congregation was 103 years old when she died. She was in perfect health, still sneaking in walks…pitch-black hair…not a gray hair to be seen. She was beautiful…spiritually and physically.”
Dr. Piscarcik continued, “A year before, she had been ill and the doctor told her superior that all she really needed to do was eat, and she would regain her strength. As a community, we had gathered in her room to pray…[We]…told her what the doctor had said…[She]…said no, she was ready to die, and she did not want to eat…Then I reminded her that even Jesus had a last meal with his apostles…She looked at her superior and only said, in a firm, clear voice for all to hear, ‘No Jello.’”
My old friend concluded, “She was ready to go home…I saw her reaching out into the air, as so, so many do before death comes. So I asked her what she was reaching for or who she saw. Immediately, she told me her favorite uncle just entered the room and how happy she was to see him…her mother and father were both there…”
His final thought on her graduation and reunion: “We would not try and stop her, but rather pray for her and give thanks to God for allowing us to share her life and journey. A few hours later, peacefully and without a sound, she stopped breathing, and her spirit left us and joined that of those who came to bring her home to the Kingdom of God.”
Later in the book, he quoted J.I. Packer: “Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth on the basis of God’s own commitment, that the best is yet to come.”
All of us have regrets.
It’s only human.
By grace through faith in Jesus, we have no doubts.
There are no sad eternities in His story.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!