“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is a common question that leads to an entertaining conversation around our dinner table.
“I want to be a mommy and have ten babies when I grow up!”
“I want to be a car fixer!”
“I want to be a princess when I grow up.”
“When I grow up, I want to be Peter Pan!!!”
“I'm going to give spankings when I grow up.”
While we may occasionally get a glimpse into what is important to each child as they answer this question, more often we just get a good laugh. Children really cannot comprehend life that far in the future. As we all know, kids tend to think that life is going to stay just as it is right now, forever. Kids enjoy being kids, and if childhood were to last forever, well, that would be just fine really.
We try to help them overcome their focus on the present by asking questions about their hypothetical futures. We enjoy thinking about them 10, even 20 years into the future, with a job and maybe a family of their own. “What will life be like then?” we wonder, we cheerfully imagine.
Yet, for me at least, I only want to think just so far into the future, not too far, or I get uncomfortable. There is a certain point in the distant future that is quite hazy, and I am content to keep it that way. Those fuzzy areas contain those harsh realities of living in a fallen world: times of loss, of aging, and of dying.
Truth be told, when things are going well, I am a bit like my children. I am quite comfortable here in this world. If this mortal life were to go on forever... well, some days, that would be just fine with me.
Of course, I did not feel that way at all as I watched Aggie deteriorate from her brain tumor this summer. Nor did I feel that way when my husband went off to war. Times of trial open our eyes to those fuzzy areas of life, and as we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, we pray, hope, and beg that this life will not last forever.
It will not. We know from looking around, and we know from God's word:
It will not always be this way.
Nine years ago my Grandma Lorraine was called home to be with the Lord. She was a mother of eight, grandmother of nineteen, and walked closely with her Lord. She came to our wedding with joy in 2000, upheld by Him though she was being treated for leukemia. A month later she was taken to be with Him. My children probably would have reminded her of her own rambunctious clan. They never got to meet her, but I am sure the would have loved her. We do not talk about her much anymore. I suspect I avoid it partly because just the mention of loved ones who have gone before remind me of this change that is coming, and it makes me uncomfortable.
It will not always be this way. They will love her when they get to know her.
As we celebrate All Saints Day this year we think of those who have gone on before us, who have undergone that final and perfect change. They have faced death and been made truly alive, freed forever from their sins. They are perfectly grown up: fully redeemed in Christ. As we follow behind them, we confidently hope we shall join them soon, in that place where change and tears have past.
Resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:9-11