They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:9 RSV

 

It’s a perfect June morning. The air is cool but not cold, warm but not hot. Clear as crystal. The mountains lift their snow-crowned heads into the cloudless sky, the rain-fat grass glows lush and green. The trees by the creek down the road burble with birdsong. I come in from my walk tired but exhilarated.

Montana at her glorious best.

We moved here 40 years ago because of mornings like this—unaware of early (and late!) snow, winter thermometers dipping to 50 below, Augusts haunted by wildfires and smoke, low rainy springs, and all the other vagaries of climate this country has shown us since.

Nothing in this sin-scarred world stays perfect for long.

But suppose…suppose it did? Suppose what we will see in heaven is not some strange new world, but the earth we know and love at its very best? No pollution, no destruction, no death. Suppose the wolf will indeed “dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and fatling together,” as in Isaiah’s ancient vision? Suppose we will find all the places we cherish at their glorious best? And suppose we and all those we love will also be at our best, freed from sin and illness and limitation?

Suppose heaven is not clouds and harps but Eden—the world as God intended it, the one He pronounced “very good?” (Genesis 1:31)

That’s writers John and Stasi Eldredge’s vision. God didn’t promise He’d make all new things, they point out, but “all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

Stasi recently broadcasted a talk about the joy of God (Ransomed Heart, “Women at the Well,” April 2017) in which she invoked the idea again. To illustrate what Eden was like, she showed a clip from “The Lion King”—the beginning when the sun rises, the chant lifts and the animals assemble at the pride rock. If you haven’t seen it for a while, I encourage you to go to YouTube and watch Disney’s “Circle of Life.” It brings me to tears every time I see it…tears not of sorrow, but of longing.

Oh, to be there—in the world as God created it, perfect, with people as God created us, also perfect, doing what we were created to do—forever!

That is the triumphant gift of Easter—the hope, the joy, the anchor of our souls that no amount of suffering or evil can take away.

FATHER GOD: What a gift; what a promise! I cherish it. Amen.

First published June 25, 2017.