Have you ever had a time in your life when you saw a big change coming? A move, a job change, a pregnancy, a marriage? There’s a particular phenomenon that takes place at times like this that I find so fascinating.
When I was pregnant, I remember having such a hard time imagining what life would be like with a baby. I’d never experienced anything like it, and even though I saw lots of families around me, I had no idea what my actual personal experience would be like. There I was, carrying a baby around inside me, knowing that one day that baby would come out. But it was so hard—near impossible—to imagine what my life would look like with a child inhabiting it. I knew it was going to happen, that there was an inevitability to it, but it was so far outside of my experience that sometimes it felt unreal, as though it might never happen.
I just couldn’t imagine life on the other side.
After Llewelyn was born, Logan kept talking about how crazy it must be for a baby. Their entire life up to one point is spent inside a womb. There is no reason for them to think that anything will ever change. But then one day there is a catastrophic transition into a life so different from anything before that it’s called birth. New Life. Llewelyn was living life before delivery, but her life was so revolutionized that it’s as though she was starting over.
How could a baby in the womb possibly imagine life on the other side?
I’m reading 1 John right now, and the apostle John spends so much time talking about his experience of living life with Jesus. He keeps trying to describe—both in the Gospel of John and in 1 John—what it was like to see, touch and hear the embodiment of the eternal God. He’s like, “Guys! I really saw this! I touched him! I heard the sound of his voice! I know what it’s like to live with God!”
But of course, we don’t know what it’s like. And even if we believe him, there’s this aspect where it is so far outside of our actual experience that it’s difficult to even imagine dwelling with God. Only a select few who lived during Jesus’ lifetime have had this unique experience and can speak into it as witnesses.
But in Revelation, John foresees what it will be like when we all experience dwelling with God:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
This is something that is going to happen to us. But it’s hard to imagine what’s on the other side of Jesus’ Second Coming. Like a baby trying to imagine life outside the womb.
But it is going to happen. There’s something waiting for us—something inevitable—something absolutely outside of our current experience. Something so different, such a big transition, that it’s like starting over. A new life.
And this experience is our future reality; it’s our destiny. It will happen.
Can you imagine?
(Stunning photo by Jennifer Mason)