Anxiety, Death, and HeavenJuly 31, 2020
August anxiety is only a few days away. I’ve experienced this for as long as I can remember but have only recently identified it. It’s the anxiety that comes from the sense that summer is slipping by, far too quickly. I feel the need to be ‘out there’ taking in as much sunshine and summer smells as I possibly can. There are the aromas of fresh hay and verdant woods and cornfields and lake water and rain falling on dry ground – all the smells that disappear in a few short months. There are summer sounds too – rolling thunder, water against the hull, lawnmowers, and the drag of a fishing reel. All these things that make a Michigan summer so incredibly good – August is when I sense they will be leaving soon, and I get anxious. September is worse, of course. I can be nearly frantic in September. By October I have reconciled myself to the inevitable and can enjoy the sweet sorrow of watching the glory of summer beautifully die.
And then it’s back to … that other season.
I realize that the anxiety of losing things that I love diminishes the enjoyment of them. And that’s true in every area of my life. Every long-anticipated feast with family and friends is tinged with the sense of its fleeting nature. Every single good and lovely thing is tainted with temporality. The world we inhabit, like a summer season, is passing away.
Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 7:31.
But notice, he says more. The words “present form” are ripe with promise. The present form of this world is passing away. In other words, this world will continue, but in a different form. Some aspects of this world will pass away, and other aspects will remain.
What will pass away?
- Prophecies - “As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8). There will be no more need for prophecies. The new earth will be filled with the glory of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 11:9).
- Perversion – “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:17). When John speaks of “the world” in this way, he is speaking of the wicked world in spiritual perversion and hostility to God.
- Pain – “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.” (Revelation 21:4)
Everything that belongs to Adam’s fall and the curse that followed will pass away! Every stain of sin will be gone! And even the tinge of temporality will pass. Time itself will be “no more”. There won’t be any sense of losing good things in the new heaven and earth. In the presence of our Lord Jesus, every good and glorious experience will only break into a new and more glorious gift. Every breaking wave of abundant joy will be followed by another of abounding glory. Forever.
And the certainty of that coming reality – where nothing is ever lost and everything is infinitely good and lasting and true – well, that’s what allows me to enjoy the next few months even as I recognize their fleeting nature. August anxiety can rest in confidence that the transient nature of this world is itself passing away and will be reformed into a glorious new world that never will. Jesus has promised it and He never fails to keep His promises!
Yours in Christ,