Wednesday, September 14, 2005

beyond the land of 'almost'

Today I'm cheating and posting something I wrote some time ago. But after four meetings with Sunday Adelaja, it expresses what I'm feeling just now.

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I am packing to go to Russia - or some eastern bloc country where it is forbidden to bring in Christian literature. I have a sheaf of such papers and decide to pack them anyway. So I slip the foreign language ones amongst the English ones and hide them in my backpack between my clothes. I spend a lot more time organizing my luggage, but finally I’m on my way, though I’m sure I haven’t packed enough things to wear.

I come to a railway trestle. In the distance I see a silver engine moving toward me. I decide, despite my fear of walking on plank bridges, that this is the time to take two youngsters across the trestle. To accomplish this, partway down I must lay on my stomach and coast down the rails. This ends up being amazingly pleasant and the train, which I continue to worry about, never makes its appearance.

All at once I am working at a computer. Suddenly the screen turns grainy and I hear the CPU working hard. I feel a familiar dread as I read what flashes on the monitor - VIRUS!

And then I wake up - sort of. Enough to know- Whew! None of this is happening; it’s all a dream.
But a minute later, I’m back looking at that pesky computer. While I’ve been away someone has tinkered with it, so now what I see on the monitor looks like the cross-section of an anthill and I can watch the little pink, yellow and white viruses replicating in each cubicle.

Shouldn’t I be contacting Symantec, to find out what to do? But how will I do that with my infected computer? Do I have their phone number somewhere? I begin searching for it.

Now someone draws my attention to a timer that has been ticking since the virus arrived. Time has almost run out, this person tells me. I have only five minutes.

Five minutes till what, I wonder. But if I have only five minutes I must hurry. And so I begin rushing around again, as ineffectually as ever. Here, thankfully, I wake up, this time for good to find it's morning.

I don’t put a lot of stock in dreams (in fact, rarely do I remember them, especially as clearly as I remembered this one). But the sense I had as I got out of bed, put on the coffee and showered, a few minutes later, was how real that dream had felt. While I was dreaming, it all seemed completely authentic - the nagging worries, the false urgencies, the unwise priorities, the foolhardy sense of power, the debilitating procrastination, all presided over by a sense of impending disaster - the Land of Almost.

I wonder how much of our life on earth will seem like a dream when we get to heaven. Verses like:

“Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)

“Dear friends, now we are children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known.” (1 John 3:2)

“There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
imply that our life there may differ from our life on earth as much as our dreams differ from the state of wakefulness.

When we awake in eternity, will we rue the fact that while on earth we put our faith in appearances and our trust in what looked and felt real? Will we suddenly twig to the realization that we gave ourselves wholeheartedly to the wrong priorities and worked our whole lives for things that didn’t last? Will we regret that we finally settled for a life of ‘almost,’ even though we were never completely satisfied that we had found the answer to why we were put on earth?

If this world and its system is illusory, where can we go to find what is real? May I suggest the Bible? Each part of this amazing book contributes to the picture. A good place to start in the Bible is Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 & 7).

I challenge you to search for the reality behind this ‘Land of Almost’ we inhabit. I urge you to do it now. If you do, you may well avoid a rude awakening at a time and in a place where you can no longer do anything about it.

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