The Weight of Vapor
This life is a vapor.
It is an odd feeling to be simultaneously enamored with this physical world, with the beautiful gifts around me, and keenly aware of how fleeting it all really is.
Yesterday I felt the warmth of the sunshine on my face, held my sweet, 5-month old baby, and watched my 4-year-old exploring in our backyard. It was one of those life moments when you wish you could freeze time or take a mental picture that will never fade, like all memories inevitably do. Right in the midst of it, I felt the Lord remind me of his goodness and the reality that all of these wonderful gifts are forms and shadows of all the greatness that is to come. When Christ returns to consummate his Kingdom, we will know depths of joy that we’ve so far only touched the surface of. We have gingerly rested our palms on the surface of the living waters, but one day we will plunge completely into their cool depths!
The Spirit empowers us to enjoy and use all of creation in ways that honor him and bring about our flourishing. Apart from Him, however, we slip either into idolatry or isolation. If we worship the creation rather than the creator, as humanity has done since the beginning of time, we dishonor God and pursue broken cisterns (Jer. 2:13). Our innately sinful hearts are enticed by a real enemy, encased by the fallen, cultural air we breathe, and we seek to fulfill our desires by means we deem good and necessary. The desires themselves are so often honorable and God-given- the desire for love, acceptance, belonging, satisfaction, or safety. But instead of finding fulfillment of those desires in the person and work of Jesus, we settle for the fruit we can touch, smell, taste. Our own senses become the rubric for reality. Our feelings become the god to whom we make sacrifices. And that god leaves us empty and unfulfilled. Every time.
Apart from Jesus we may also reject his good creation all together, white-knuckling our way through life, burdened by the weight of our own sanctification. Out of fear of making His good gifts idolatrous gods, we can wrongly reframe them as gross. Sex, and its historic mishandling by the Church, is the perfect example. Sex was designed by God as a joyous, worshipful gift to be expressed and enjoyed within the covenantal confines of marriage, between one man and one woman for life. Instead, our culture lauds a twisted and shattered copy of it as a god, beckoning us to bring our sacrifices to its altar. Our time, our fantasies, our money, our sense of worth, and ultimately our identities- they must all be laid upon the cold altar of this god. But instead of ushering us into the fulfillment we seek, we are cast out from its temple, empty, hurting, and filled with shame. Shame makes us isolate and cobble together coverings for our spiritual nakedness, as flimsy as the leaves our first parents foolishly trusted.
There is a third option.
The good news of the gospel is that the same God who created everything- in a perfect harmony that glorified him and allowed all of creation to flourish- responded to our sinful rebellion with a rescue plan. Jesus’ perfect life, atoning death, and eternity-securing resurrection have grander implications than we may realize! Not only can we have our massive sin debt paid, our hearts completely transformed, and our hope of Heaven secured and guarded for us, but we also are freed to live a new kind of life right now. The gospel unveils the true meaning and purpose of all things, from relationships, to our bodies, to sunny afternoons spent on our deck. Jesus is the point of it all. He wants us to worship him for his good gifts, steward and care for them well, and continue to reflect God’s Kingdom here on earth. As brief as our earthly lives may be, we are called to spend them unapologetically for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the perfect sacrifice, made once and for all. As we obey his call to lay everything down on his altar, every gift that is from him and for him, we find true joy, peace, and life to the full! We get to enjoy his gifts fully, as they accomplish the purposes for which they were created- to reflect the incomparable love and goodness of our heavenly father and draw us to himself. What an amazing end to a simple story of a sunny afternoon on the deck.