It seems that God had one more lesson planned in this series, one I did not originally plan.
For when our Czech Republic mission team said goodbye to our last non-Montana allies as we were preparing to head home, it was at…a pizza restaurant.
I love it when God does stuff like that.
What I don’t love is goodbyes. I get frustrated with them. I value stability, continuity, relationship. I value people. Change doesn’t sit well with me. You can shrug and go “It’s part of life, Brandon” all you like, and you would be right. But there are still those of us who don’t exactly gravitate towards change. It’s a personality thing.
That’s one hard part of a mission trip. As you leave the camp, then leave your host families and church, then leave your last allies as they drop you off by the airport, then finally leave your other teammates as they split off…well, it’s wave after wave of goodbyes. Like a long road of potholes.
That’s another reason I’m happy for the promise of heaven.
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:28-29)
Some say it is improper to teach Christians to look forward to any benefit of heaven other than the glory of God. I say let Jesus talk. If he sees fit to speak of rewards like the restoration of all our cherished human relationships, then it’s probably okay to look forward to such things. And boy do I look forward to that.
We might also say that it is to God’s glory that such relationships be restored, since he mentions it as a feature of heaven where his glory is undimmed and unquenched. We might even add that it’s really the glory of God that will make these things perfect, improved, satisfying in every way, in a manner that our earthly shadows never could pull off. Imagine our most valued relationships with the sin, secrets, and sharp edges all removed forever. Who could argue with that?
There is a condition, though – following Jesus.
Jesus’ glorious promises in Matthew 19 come on the heels of his encounter with the rich young ruler, a man who walked away from God because he preferred the reward he had. It is an unspeakably sad story.
I, for one, want what God has to offer. The reconstruction of human relationships, everything made new, and above all, his glory and closeness. I will follow him to get it. Will you?