I don’t know if you’ve been following along in Paul David Tripp’s book New Morning Mercies, but this one hit me between the eyes. Guilty as charged! Wherever you are, I pray it might be a challenge to you. Tripp writes:
Of course you haven’t been fulfilled in this world. It’s a sign that you have been designed for a world to come. It is an item on each of our theological outlines, but we don’t actually live as though we believe it. We all say that we believe that this is not all there is. We say we really do believe that there is life after this one ends. Our formal theology contains the fact of a new heaven and a new earth to come. But we tend to live with the anxiety and drivenness that come when we believe that all we have is this moment.
Here’s the real-life, street-level issue: if you don’t keep the eyes of your heart focused on the paradise that is to come, you will try to turn this poor fallen world into the paradise it will never be. In the heart of every living person is the longing for paradise. The cry of a toddler who has just fallen down is a cry for paradise. The tears of the school-age child who has been rejected on the playground are tears of one reaching out for paradise. The pain of aloneness that a person without friends or family feels is the pain of one longing for paradise. The hurt the couple feels as their marriage dissolves is the hurt of those crying out for paradise. The sadness that the old man feels as his body weakens is the sadness of one who longs for paradise. We all have this longing, even when we are not aware of it, because it was placed there by our Creator. He has placed eternity in each one of our hearts (Eccl. 3: 11). Our cries are more than cries of pain; they are also cries of longing for more and better than we will ever experience in this fallen world.
When you forget this, you work very hard to try to turn this moment into the paradise it will never be. Your marriage will not be a paradise. Your job will not be the paradise you long for. Your friendships will not be the paradise your heart craves. The world around you will not function like paradise. Your children will not deliver paradise to you. Even your church will not live up to the standard of paradise. If you’re God’s child, paradise has been guaranteed for you, but it will not be right here, right now. All the things that disappoint you now are to remind you that this is not all there is and to cause you to long for the paradise that is to come. The dreams that die remind you that this is not paradise. The flowers that wilt remind you that this is not paradise. The sin that captivates you should remind you that this is not paradise. The diseases that infect you are to remind you that this is not paradise. Live in hope because paradise is surely coming, and stop asking this fallen world to be the paradise it will never be.
Devotion from: Tripp, Paul David (2014-10-31). New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional