Two Deep Things


I can think of two things deep wounds and deep joy have in common.

One is that they’re both very hard to express. How do you communicate to another person that a single sentence or facial expression can strike you at your core? How a joke about your appearance or a raised eyebrow that reminds you of an abuser can devastate you inside, even though you might retain your composure until you’re alone? Or, on the other side, that the smell of tea or the sound of Christmas music can instantly transport you to the happiest moment of your life? How can you get across to another person the sheer weight of what you’re feeling at the moment that that scar or that joy is tapped into?

The other is that they both, in their own ways, point to eternity. Because nothing purely worldly can honestly bind those deep wounds. And nothing flush with sin (as even the best of this world is) can replicate those deep joys, not even (as C.S. Lewis said) the moments themselves, should we be able to re-live them; after all, it was the longing for some permanence like the grandmother’s embrace or the Christmas morning that made our hearts sing. It was the longing, not the smell or the sensation or the sound itself. These wounds and joys are signposts. 

The pains of my innermost heart, the insecurities I can’t even express and fears that strike me like a hot iron in the middle of the night, can’t be fully resolved by anything but the triune God. And the happinesses I most want to taste, the ones merely echoed in the cleanest, brightest moments of my childhood or most momentous occasions of my adulthood, aren’t going to be completely realized on this side of the eschaton. Pain won’t be fully left behind and joy won’t be fully consummated until the Lamb of Israel and Lion of Judah returns.  

Incommunicability and pointing to eternity: Two qualities our deepest pains and joys share.  

Two notes they both sing well, though on different sides of the shadow.   

Two Deep Things


I can think of two things deep wounds and deep joy have in common.

One is that they’re both very hard to express.  How do you communicate to another person that a single sentence or facial expression can strike you at your core?  How a joke about your appearance or a raised eyebrow that reminds you of an abuser can devastate you inside, even though you might retain your composure until you’re alone?  Or, on the other side, that the smell of tea or the sound of Christmas music can instantly transport you to the happiest moment of your life?  How can you get across to another person the sheer weight of what you’re feeling at the moment that that scar or that joy is tapped into?

The other is that they both, in their own ways, point to eternity.  Because nothing purely worldly can honestly bind those deep wounds.  And nothing flush with sin (as even the best of this world is) can replicate those deep joys, not even (as C.S. Lewis said) the moments themselves, should we be able to re-live them; after all, it was the longing for some permanence like the grandmother’s embrace or the Christmas morning that made our hearts sing.  It was the longing, not the smell or the sensation or the sound itself.  These wounds and joys are signposts. 

The pains of my innermost heart, the insecurities I can’t even express and fears that strike me like a hot iron in the middle of the night, can’t be fully resolved by anything but the triune God.  And the happinesses I most want to taste, the ones merely echoed in the cleanest, brightest moments of my childhood or most momentous occasions of my adulthood, aren’t going to be completely realized on this side of the eschaton.  Pain won’t be fully left behind and joy won’t be fully consummated until the Lamb of Israel and Lion of Judah returns.  

Incommunicability and pointing to eternity:  Two qualities our deepest pains and joys share.  

Two notes the both sing well, though on different sides of the shadow.   


A Hypothetical Gun with Live Ammo

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Let me paint for you a quick hypothetical picture. It’s a useful one because it could easily happen, and those are of course the most helpful sorts of hypotheticals.

On my way home today, someone flies through a red light going 50 mph and hits me in the driver’s side. God allows my earthly life to end and so I am almost immediately after impact with Him, standing before His Son.

Now the point of this hypothetical: What matters? With eternity now stretching out before my eyes, unfolding in front of me like a golden river at the feet of Jesus, what matters? What was meaningful in my life while living in this frail body on this fractured planet, before both of them get remade? With all of my decades on earth now looking like one grain of sand on a beach of moments stretching a million miles in either direction, what was of value?

Whether or not I finally got the house in order? If I got to see the last episode of that TV series I was watching? How annoying it was to clean the litter boxes? Whether or not I got the raise I wanted?

Either eternity is real or it’s not. Either Heaven and Hell exist, one of which will contain every single friend, co-worker, neighbor, and family member I have, or they don’t. Either Jesus rose from the dead and will return to judge every single soul that’s ever been woven into existence or not. And if eternity is real, and the universe really is as Jesus said it was (namely under His feet), then all my priorities have to be different from my neighbors and buddies who don’t think as such. I can’t think about raising my kids the the way they think about raising theirs. I can’t think about retirement or free time or finances or prayer or death or forgiveness the way they do. Because I am living with the certain, rock-solid awareness that every single human being will either experience unending happiness at the feet of Jesus Christ or unending misery under His wrath for their sin.

Every thing I do here touches the silver thread of eternity. I can hide from that fact more easily in America than many other human beings can, because unlike the Christians in Nigeria, Iraq, or Cambodia I can play with electronics in my central air to the point of numbing myself to eternity. And unlike most Christians (and humans) throughout history I haven’t lost a child in infancy or early childhood. So I can, if I choose to, pretend that I won’t stand before God with a trillion moments of either incalculable joy or just, deserved agony awaiting me. I live in a time and place with the privilege of diversion (or the diversion of privilege, perhaps), and so I can pretend that this life is bigger than it is and that the grave is smaller.

But guys, I won’t just hypothetically die. Unless King Jesus comes back in my lifetime, I will truly, honestly go to sleep and awaken to His shining face and heart-stopping glory. And I refuse to live in such a way that’ll win me the world but cause me to forfeit my soul. I want to please Him now so I can enjoy His pleasure forever.

I plead with you to join me, and all of His true saints, in that. Let’s run together towards eternity.

*Note: This post is adapted from an e-mail I sent to our church.

Real Encouragement

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The greatest encouragement I could give you is the one that Jesus gave, and that is Himself.

His dependable, impossibly loving, soul-stirringly holy, fiercely gracious, sacrificial self.

Not that you’re a winner.

Not that there’s some great financial blessing somewhere around the corner.

Not that you can be a better you who can, in turn, make the world a better world, and all by yourself.

No, the most authentic, meaningful, reliable encouragement for you and for me is that the only One who can repair us, redeem us, and remake our world is offering Himself to each of us individually.

He told one of the worst, most flawed and false Christian churches of the New Testament day (Laodicea) that He was standing at the door and knocking, and that whoever opened He would come in and share a meal with. The encouragement, the good news, the wonderful truth we can eagerly live for is that the Jesus who has every right to judge and end us for our wickedness has sought us out. Has offered His own perfect blood and sinless life as a way for us to be made friends with God.

The best, most encouraging news available under the sky is that, through trusting in Jesus Christ, though I deserve death for my sin I’ve been given life for His righteousness. I deserve to have God as my enemy but have Him as Father and Shepherd. I deserve to have the innocent blood I have shed avenged upon me, but instead God avenges on my behalf because of Jesus’ more innocent blood shed for me.

Don’t take the shallow, meaningless pats on the back that our culture offers. “You’re wonderful, just be yourself.” “If that works for you, just do it.” “You’ll be all right, don’t overthink.”

These are, very often, meaningless half-truths or non-truths. And meanwhile, the Jesus who authored and will remake and rule our galaxy and a hundred thousand others is offering to kill your old self, resurrect a new one, and make you a part of His holy, powerful, Spiritually alive kingdom.

A lot of people who offer lesser encouragements may mean well, but what they share or say has nothing on Jesus Christ. Take the King’s hand, turning from your sin, and receive the best and most life-giving encouragement anyone can.