Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Christmas Towel

I smiled as I took it out of the drawer, the Christmas towel I keep with the other hand towels at our farm.  I use it year round, and usually I think how silly I am to do so.  But today when I took it out, it was in season.  All year, I use that towel and it never really makes sense to me.  But today I used it, and it did.  Christmastime is here!

It made me think of all the times I have to remind myself of the reality of Heaven.  All this preaching and teaching and Bible study and mission work to convince people of what we believe will all be over with one day.  There won't be any need for it because we'll all know Him, from the least of us to the greatest.  One day, we're going to look up and see His face.  The season for our salvation will come.

Sometimes, I think people are so self-satisfied that they can't really understand true desperation.  My longing for Christ's return may be foreign to many, but somehow I think that we all come to that place, the end of the rope, the brokenness that makes us turn, to cry out for help.  And when that time comes and the promise of eternal life is given, we say we're saved.  But you could think of it like this, that the hour of salvation hasn't really come yet.  We're still walking around in this dark world, a world filled with war and hatred and greed.  We live in a world that's dying.  I've been all around the world now, and I've seen death.

I once sat by the bedside of a very young woman in India who was so shriveled up with disease, she was but a wisp, and she hated it.  She hated her condition.  We couldn't speak each other's language, but I knew she was glad I was there.  She wanted me to pet her, to rub her back, to give her a few sips of water.  She pointed to her emaciated arms and shook her head and then let it fall to one side as if she could barely even look at herself in the state she was in.  I tried to comfort her.  I made a cradle with my arms and rocked them back and forth and then pointed to the sky.  She knew what I was saying.  She held up two fingers, made the cradle sign, and pointed upward.  I understood.  She had two children in Heaven.  Poor girl.  She couldn't have been much older than Brandi.  Her life would be better after she left this world, her present darkness.

That was the day we spend at the Mother Teresa Center in the city formerly known as Calcutta.  This girl had been taught about Jesus, and I hope and I pray that one day I'll see her again in another world, in another day.  I'll see her wearing her brightly colored sari; and her big, brown eyes will be sparkling as she introduces me to her children.  Bronner and I will spend the day together with her and her children.  I don't know if they're girls or boys or one of each.  We didn't get that far in our hand signals.

It's for people like this young Indian girl that the dream of Heaven and a new earth is more than a hope.  It's not just a desire anymore, a nice thought.  It's raw desperation, something you want so badly that without it, nothing else matters.  If not for Heaven, why live at all?  If not for Jesus, what light is there?  I saw her pain.  It wasn't just physical pain.  Her pain reached into the depths of her soul.  She remembered herself as a beautiful young girl running and playing, but life had not been kind.  Her heart cried out for more.


Can you relate to that?  Can you understand why I want something more than what is?  Yes, technically, I'm saved in the Christian sense.  But saved from what?  Certainly not the heartbreak I saw in the eyes of this beautiful but dying young woman.  Certainly not from the disappointment of seeing dreams and lives shattered.  Certainly not from darkness itself and the travail against it every waking moment.  No, there's a salvation to come that is even greater than the promise my faith gives me.  Salvation will be my reality and existence only when THERE IS NO MORE DARKNESS.  Only when the Creator and Giver of light and life itself rides upon the clouds will my darkness be stamped out forever.

Today, I pulled out a towel that was in season.  Maybe tomorrow, I'll no longer have to dream of streets of gold or of holding a precious boy that I've been missing like crazy.  Maybe tomorrow the season of my salvation will come.  Maybe.