I do not write in love if I do not write this clearly, and with all the urgency I feel:
Jesus Christ, the Lamb Slain, the One Raised, the Word made Flesh, the Lord—the One and Only—He reshapes me.
And He’s coming back.
It will happen in the blink of an eye, but it will not be a secret.
“For as lightning comes from the east and is visible even in the west (Matthew 24:27),” so will His coming be. No one will need to explain what has happened, nor suggest that He has appeared in one place but not yet in another. When finally the moment comes, the time for convincing, the time for testimony, will be over.
And no one knows when, save El Echad. Not even the angels (Matthew 24:36).
Zoe talks about it with a sweeping hand, the gesture too big for sitting down. I had asked her what it means, this appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:4), the flashing promise on the page, and she got so excited she had to stand up.
“That’s going to be the day when all the stuff that hurts us all will be gone. And there will be no more selfish or ugly or sick or mean. There will be nothing more to be afraid about. And all that will be left will be the good things, the good people. And all the good things are His glory. And all of us will be with Him.”
Sometimes she stuns me, the way she speaks. It’s all grace.
I imagine that day more the older I get, wondering what I’ll be doing when the sky rips apart, or if His patience will continue on (2 Peter 3:9), and I’ll be seeing through the long lens of eternity. I wonder if He’ll find me waiting or trying to stuff something I just said back in my mouth. Because, honestly, sometimes I don’t wait well.
It’s funny, the way we see Him, floating down on some person-sized cloud, all painted European and handsome, the long hair, the beard, the skin that’s nearly translucent. So much of our view of Him is so contained, so human, so imaginable, so in our own image. But the truth is, He’ll shatter everything we thought we knew. Yes, there’s something written about Him coming in the clouds (Mark 13:26), which is where the finger tends to rest, not above on stars falling from the sky or beyond on great power and glory. The descriptions of scripture, and these still limited by human perspective to give us anchors, evoke more than our imaginations can conceive. He is blinding, obliterating light, light that destroys everything temporary, everything false, everything evil. He burns like fire. He’s strong beyond all that we imagine of strength, and yet He never bruises the broken. His coming will slice deep, cutting through all the mixed up impositions we’ve made, like a sword. Word says He’s soul-beautiful and also terrifying with all His power displayed, so much so that we’ll press our faces into the ground. If we have time, that is, before we’re caught up to meet Him.
I believe. I believe that He died for me, that He was raised, that He comes.
Look, I know some of you don’t believe it, that you don’t see the way we all reach for this truth even when we don’t mean to do it. And I know that you feel that if I say there’s truth at all that I am condemning someone. And I know that I’ll probably never convince you that mercy and grace and love like God’s can really exist in tandem with holiness that requires justice for our selfishness. I hope that’s not so, the never. But I’m not writing to change you, nor to judge you, nor to condemn what you think. He didn’t breathe life into me for any of that. I’m just a voice, calling out in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23).”
I don’t disrespect your ideas or your intellect or your right to choose, which is God’s gift to you. I am not most right. I am most in need of forgiveness, and therefore most forgiven. I am not most perfect. I most need to change, and therefore am most changed. I am not most sure. I am instead unknowing apart from Him, and therefore simply most aware of my own blindness. I ask Him to etch His words deep on my heart, because I do not trust my own understanding. And I’m writing to love, because this is real, and it’s everything. And at the moment when all our self-significance dissolves, I don’t want you to wonder why no one told you. A disciple follows, all the way through patronizing to mockery and beyond, to the cross, and so I go by grace. For the sake of those who will hear. And this journey scares me, except that I sit in His palms.
I believe. Even on the days when I am body weary and I can feel my living on my hands, the phantom of so much work, so much struggling, I do believe He comes. And I believe it could be this instant, that there’s no time to waste.
Zoe sweeps her arm through the air again and again as she speaks of evil passing away, and I see wings, the line of her arm still there after she moves it away, the light and air disrupted by the motion. And the Spirit reminds that He promised us soaring on wings like eagles, running and not growing weary, walking and not feeling faint (Isaiah 40:31). It echoes, this thought, just as Zoe says, “no more of the temporary things, the earthly things, like being tired.”
I try so hard not to let her see how sometimes glad I am to see the day ending, how ready I am for rest. I try to swallow my sighs, lest they communicate the wrong thing, lest they cover over all my joy. But this day has been full of earthly things—cleaning and washing and cooking and folding and allergies and time spilled and frustration and emptying, and distraction leaves me searching for the lasting. Remembering that I am waiting, that I anticipate something more, that He promises wings–that remembering takes choosing. And I don’t always choose to hold fast to His promises. Sometimes I marinate in complaint.
Kevin walks in the door just as I am watching our daughter fly, just as the Spirit has taken hold and focused her words. And he carries a bag, bright orange like the glow of the sun now drifting away, stuffed with tissue.
“You got a gift,” I say, delighted to see the bright token on his arm, lighting up an armload of day.
“No, actually you got a gift,” He says, smiling.
“I did? How?”
It turns out that a friend simply made my husband the messenger. Inside, a note, written sweet. I saw it and thought I had to get it for you. I pray this all arrives on a day that you need it. She laughs at her delay, telling me she’s had this for a while. I lift out a treasure wrapped in paper. A mug, butterflies of every color delicately floating over it. The sculpted handle is printed like the wings of a Monarch. …so grateful for how I look at butterflies differently and our journey on this earth, she has written, in delicate, curling strokes of ink. I see wings in the movement of her pen, the sweep of script across the edges of the card in my hand. I lift the mug up to the light, and in my hands now, a hundred sets of wings, elegant.
Holometabolism, that’s what they call it, the melting of the caterpillar’s body, the cells reforming into a completely new shape. God takes the old, the consuming, never-satiated being and makes it into something new. He’s done this for all time, for all things created, for every hungry, emptied moment. Metamorphoo is God’s word, meaning a complete spiritual transformation, the old self completely reshaped into the image of Christ, with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Just as the day dies and I feel earthly weary, I hold the wings in my hands. Just as I need to remember a day when all the dust of this place will not cling to my feet, my daughter flies.
I pray this all arrives on a day that you need it.
It does. It always has. It’s our thing, mine and God’s. Stay here long enough and I’ll offer you a history of flight. …Me, rushing weary to the bathroom in the hospital, hurrying away finally for just a moment from my plump, wordless baby boy and his uncomprehending tears, just a moment to breathe, just a moment to let it sink in that this thing I said—It could be worse. We could have to give one our children shots every day—has come to pass. I sit down, cover my face with my hands. I am too tired, too stunned, too strong for my son to weep in front of him. So I slide my fingers away, and that’s when I notice the hundreds of boxes of supplies for diabetic patients. ”What are they doing here, in the bathroom?” I wonder. And the symbol FreeStyle has chosen, the one repeated and covering the walls where I sit, everywhere I look when I don’t know how to see, is a butterfly. And I know, because it’s our thing, mine and God’s. It always has been. He speaks it clear, the promise of wings, as He has again and again.
There is nothing I will not transform.
And one day, I will finish the work.
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. (~Revelation 22: 20,21)