Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.
Ever notice how we have a compulsion to point out the first robin of the year?
Why is that?
An armchair psychologist might suggest that the reason we get excited about seeing the first robin or crocus is that we have an unconscious urge for summer to come so we can mow our lawn at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning to avenge our neighbor for blowing his snow into our driveway.
Psychologists come up with cool explanations for things.
Yet, while we may be excited about spring because we’re looking forward to summer, that doesn’t fully answer our robin question. Yes, kids get “spring fever” and can’t wait for summer vacation. But they’re also excited about the first day of school, and buying new pencils and clothes.
If you think about it, we get excited about new things – even if they’re things we dread. Parents can’t wait to wake their kids up to see the first snowfall of the season – even if they hate winter. We point out the first dandelion we see in the yard – even if we moan about all the dandelions in the yard by the end of June.
But imagine it’s mid-summer and you’re driving a car full of people – with me in the back seat. Suddenly I shout, “Whoa! Stop! Did you see that?”
Everyone immediately stares out the window, as if they might get their first glimpse of a brontosaurus, or something.
“Over there! Do you see that maple tree out there in the field?”
Everyone says, “Yes?” (still hoping there might be a brontosaurus behind it.)
“Can’t you see it? That maple tree has leaves on it!”
Now, I always point out the first leaves of the year, but if I still got ecstatic about seeing leaves on a tree in mid-July, I would have to roam the hallways of nursing homes and hand out free denture cream in order to find a friend.
Robins and leaves are always lovely, but by summer they’re no longer news. “News” is exciting because it is new.
A pastor once told me to imagine a sparrow flying to a granite mountain once a year to sharpen its beak. The time it takes the sparrow to wear down the mountain . . .that’s how long eternity is.
He might be right, but thinking of heaven in terms of duration unnerves me. I think of the Riverside Baptist choir standing on a cloud and singing “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” for the nineteen billionth time . . . and the sparrow can’t get them to shut up!
When God showed John a revelation of heaven, he didn’t show him something that was long, he showed him something that was new.
Heaven, I believe, will always be new.
(copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)