RANDY HUFF: Yearning for The Real

Thinking long and hard has mixed reviews. At least there’s no utopia in the offing. Maybe this failure suggests utopia is not possible, or our notion of utopia is faulty. I’m in the latter camp, except I don’t believe in utopia, but rather in a new heaven and earth as the biblical corpus puts it.

It likely exceeds our conceptions. Paul the Apostle was no mean intellect. Historian Tom Holland says his writings were “depth charges” throughout the entire Greco/Roman world. And Paul said the afterlife will be good beyond our imagination.

I believe in the afterlife because I am a Christian. It is clearly taught in the Scripture, and Jesus Himself assured his followers: “I go to prepare a place for you.” But there’s enough ambiguity to let us know a lot with low resolution – and very little with high.

I am taken, though, with this idea of a “new heaven and new earth.” It makes sense when we remember Creation is good. Yet we all know in our bones it isn’t all it ought to be now.

We creatures seem to make sure of that every day.

Something’s just plain wrong with the notion that we who compulsively create hell in families, communities, and nations will, from that same human milieu create a heaven on earth. Yes, there are Churchills and Britains to beat back Hitler and Nazi Germany, but if WWII Germany was close to hell, Britain, for all its goodness, (surprise, surprise) did not become heaven.

Perhaps no one would imagine we will create heaven, except John Lennon’s anthem by that title, which gave hopefuls everywhere a faux heavenly vision. The scandalous unreality of that same anthem is that it scrapes the broken chalkboard within every home and heart.

Try as we might, thinking will not solve our problems. As Pascal put it, “Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.”

So where does that leave us? In part with the fixed things that transcend reason. Mother, father, child; earth, wind, fire; starry sky of bewildering wonder, pain of sudden death and continual suffering, ecstatic pleasures that bewilder with delight.

One might say my Christian dogma informs all for me, and one would be right, though working it out fully is beyond all of us. But if there are no fixed things to which all can attest, meaning and mind are done. The fixed things give us a place to begin, to believe, to hope . . .

To Trust.

In the new heaven and new earth fixed things will remain – will indeed, be real in all their true realness. We are told there will be no tears, which surely means no sorrow. But hardship, challenge, growth, striving, working, enjoying – I’m inclined to think all of that and more will be there, along with pleasure. Theologians can correct me if they wish – I’m just wondering.

All creation groans, Paul says, to bring all things into newness. I don’t want to die anytime soon but I know I will someday. I too groan for that newness, for the realness of which my life is a hint and shadow. On that great day the groaning will give way to knowing and loving and cheering.

Indeed, we will know and be known in ways that reason has no clue.

I can’t wait, but I will.

Randy Huff

Randy Huff and his wife lived for 5 years in Roanoke (Hollins) where they raised 2 sons. Randy served as Dean of Students at a Christian school and then worked in construction. For the last 8 years he has served as pastor of a church in North Pole, Alaska.

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -

Related Articles