Ambassador of Reconciliation
2/26/16 at 01:14 AM 6 Comments

Paradise Regained

text size A A A

Some friends have just returned home after a fabulous trip to his birthplace—Hawaii—to celebrate his seventieth birthday—his threescore and ten. All seventeen members of their family were able to go—Mom, Dad, five kids, three spouses, and seven grandkids

As I have looked at their pictures and heard about their adventures, I have to admit that I feel some twinges of envy—not just for the spectacular place where they gathered, but even more so for the fact that their whole family was together. Everyone was there, down to their newest little granddaughter, who was only six weeks old. And even better than the fact that they were all together—they all got along! As the mom reported, “Family members still on speaking terms after all this togetherness!”

Relatively few people will ever experience a reunion with the entire family in such an exotic location. It has been several years since our whole family has been together, and with everyone’s life circumstances, I don’t know when it might happen again. Some haven’t even met our newest grandchild. As a mother and grandmother, I long for such a reunion, yet even when or if it does happen, I know that it won’t be perfect; conflict and friction will never be completely absent.

Who wouldn’t be thrilled to have a vacation in a beautiful place like Hawaii surrounded by people who love you and get along with you? For most, it is an impossible dream, made unattainable by a multitude of factors. I especially feel for those who can’t even hope for such a reunion—even if money were no object—because they have lost family members due to death or estrangement.

So will this universal longing go unfulfilled for the vast majority of people on earth? Yes. Even the rich can’t pull it off if their family members are at odds with one another.

But wait. Did God put such longings inside us only to have them go forever unfulfilled? No! He created us with a desire for fellowship, love, and beauty, and He can and will fulfill that desire, beyond our wildest expectations.

Clearly such a complete fulfillment will not happen in this life. But God is not limited to this life to accomplish His purposes and bless His people. He promised long ago that the day will come when He will restore everything (Acts 3:21). He has made known to us the mystery of His will—to bring all together in unity under the headship of Christ (Eph. 1:9-10).

Some might be thinking, “Gag me—I couldn’t stand to be with my family for more than five minutes.” But don’t worry—they will not be the same as they are now, and neither will you. We will all go through the refining fire of God’s judgment, until we are fit to live in His kingdom (Rom. 14:10-12). And the earth itself, which now is in bondage to decay, will be transformed into a paradise that will make Hawaii pale in comparison (Rom. 8:21). And all suffering will end and there will be no more tears or fears or strife or pain or mourning or death (Rev. 21:4).

Does your heart feel “a thrill of hope” to imagine that such a paradise might possibly exist—a place of exquisite beauty and, even better, perfect harmony? This hope can be realized only through Jesus Christ. He is the one who brings good news and sets free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). He died and was raised to life, and in Him we will be resurrected to new life (1 Cor. 15:20-22). Come to Him, allow Him to transform the ashes of your life to beauty, and embrace the hope of the resurrection.

Or do you already have assurance that you yourself will experience bliss, but feel fear for your loved ones who don’t know Christ? Remember who it is you have put your faith in. He loves your family members more than you do. And He loves you more than you can imagine. You will not arrive at the reunion only to find that those you love have been cast off forever. Their presence will not be automatic—they have to come to Christ, acknowledge Him as their Savior, and submit to His transforming work in their lives—but it is assured because He loved them enough to give His life for them, and He will surely see to it that His sacrifice for them was not in vain.

So when you see people experiencing joy and beauty and harmony that may seem elusive to you, don’t let it become a cause of envy. (I’m speaking to myself here!) Rather, let it be a cause for hope. As you catch a glimpse of what true joy and peace can be, let it serve as a small foretaste of the spectacular future that God has in store for His creation—to restore His entire creation to a state that will be even more wonderful than it was before we messed it up.

When my dad passed away last year, I reminded my mom that their separation is only for a time. Someday there will be a stupendous family reunion where not only will they be together, but the entire family will be present and at perfect peace with one another. Praise God that His ways are infinitely beyond all we could ask or even imagine!

What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

For more on the theme of reunions that leave no one behind, see my series of “Homecomings” blogs, starting here.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).