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Spiritual diary of sheltering in place: The lifeline of God’s distant future

Lynne Baab • Wednesday May 27 2020

Spiritual diary of sheltering in place: The lifeline of God’s distant future

I have always loved the passages in the Bible where the whole creation is encouraged to praise God. Psalm 96:11-12 is one example:

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
        let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
       let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
       before the LORD.”

If I were writing these words at this time, I would add something like “because you, beautiful creation, have become a lifeline for so many people during this pandemic. You reflect God’s creativity and beauty. You speak to us of timelessness and of something beyond ourselves. You help us rest in peace. You trees, flowers, clouds, mountains, lakes – we humans invite you to join us in praising God because God uses you to bring us peace and relief in the midst of covid-19.”

I’m fascinated by the concepts that the Bible juxtaposes – ideas that I would not think of connecting to each other. This psalm encourages creation to praise God because God will come to judge the earth. Read the above verses again, followed by the reason for praise of God:

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
        let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
       let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
       before the LORD; for he is coming,
       for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
       and the peoples with his truth.”  – Psalm 96:11-13

I was in midlife before I realized that God’s judgment could be good news, something good enough that the whole creation would rejoice. God’s judgment will be righteous and based on truth. We don’t have to worry that God will be capricious. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we know that God’s love will cover us. We stand before God today, and we will stand before God at the time of judgment, confident in Jesus’ righteousness, and confident that all will be made right. All evil will be purged away.

All the evil inside of me will be judged and removed, and I will stand before God clean and pure. No longer will my mind be tossed about with fears and catastrophic thoughts. No longer will I battle the inner voices that speak lies to me. No longer I feel deep sadness at human pain. I can’t wait! Yes, trees, flowers, clouds and mountains should rejoice with me at the freedom that is coming.

In addition, all forms of evil will be judged. Destructive viruses will be no more. People will no longer make unwise decisions that imperil others. Self-seeking, self-justification, self-absorption, and self-deception will come to an end. All forms of violence will be burned away. Yes, the oceans and the whole earth should sing for joy because that wonderful day is coming.

Part of why the present is so difficult right now is that we can’t see the near future very clearly. How long will I be in my home? How long will unemployment be so high? When will I be able to go on a vacation again?

Looking at the distant future, the day of God’s judgment and restoration of all things, has brought generations of Christians great hope in the midst of suffering. We can take courage as we join with God’s beautiful creation in praising God that one day destructive viruses will be no more. I never thought I’d be writing a blog post affirming that God’s judgment is a lifeline in pandemic times, but indeed, I do experience God’s peace knowing God holds the distant future.

Creator God, we praise you for the way the beauty of creation has sustained us in these weird and challenging days. Please give us your hope. Help us to rejoice in our coming future of joy and peace when all evil will be destroyed and we will see Jesus face to face, and he will be our light. Amen.

(Next post: another lifeline. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you’d like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up below.)

I recently published my book on midlife for kindle for $3.49. You may be aware that kindle books can be read on a kindle or on any other device with a kindle app. A Renewed Spirituality: Finding Fresh Paths at Midlife presents the losses and discoveries of midlife that my many interviewees described to me, and then suggests six spiritual paths that people at midlife have found helpful:

  • Celtic Christian Spirituality: God’s presence in everyday life
  • Nature: A gift from God that calls us to worship
  • Sabbath: Learning to rest in God
  • Benedictine Spirituality: Worshipping God in ordinary life
  • From Head to Heart: Experiencing God’s truth through creativity and beauty
  • Contemplative Prayer: Letting God speak through scripture and silence.

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