It happens every fall, at our place. You have that big long list of things that you need to accomplish before winter hits, but then the list is longer than the time available, and you don’t get everything done. This annoys me, a little. Actually, a lot. I’m a list-maker, a compulsive list-checker-offer (yes it’s a legitimate phrase, I should know, I just made it up) and when those items on the list don’t get done . . . well, it galls me. I have to look at these undone tasks all the rest of the winter. The pile of firewood that didn’t get split. The wood chips that didn’t get hauled to the hoop house. Alas, the leeks that didn’t get dug and now are a sorry sodden mass out in the hoop house (I’m hanging my head in shame here).
But time has a way of charging forward, no matter what the condition of your list is, does it not? I’m so grateful though, that God doesn’t judge me for the things I finish or don’t finish. It occurred to me one early morning as I was out in the cold, doing my morning chores.
It had been foggy and damp the day before, so a delightful frosting had happened to the world while we slept. God had made a beautiful vision of my collection of undone things outside. Of course God would do that for me. Knowing my critical, self-judging heart, He covered up all the “should have dones” with indescribable beauty.
For example, check out what he did with the orchard (which still needs its final fall pruning):
And take a look at the saggy chicken wire fence that didn’t get bolstered up like it should have . . .
You know those pesky invasive locust trees, growing through the chicken fence. They should have been cut out last fall. But God took them and made them beautiful.
That jumble of tomato cages that we tossed over the garden fence that day last fall, intending to return later to pile them all up neatly, took on a lovely look, see?
We never came back to finish this job. Obviously. For shame. Woe. But it’s okay.
And the pile of firewood? We got a lot of it cut and split and hauled, but not all of it.
The temperature was hovering right around 0° when I stumped around, taking these pictures. My toes were getting numb and I had to slip my fingers out of my mittens to take photos. It occurred to me that I was risking my fingers to frostbite to get those pictures, and that I’d have quite a longer list of “Undones” if I didn’t have fingers, so I stuffed my fingers back into my mittens and left them there.
“Behold, I make all things new.” This kept going through my mind on this particular morning, and ever since, actually. Of course I was taking this verse out of context. It is in Revelation: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” It is a meditation on heaven.
Earth will never be heaven. No matter how hard we work to make it so, we’ll never accomplish heaven here on earth. There will always be more locust trees to cut out, more tomato cages that need stacking, more firewood that will need to be cut. We can work to the point of exhaustion but our earthly home will never, never be heaven. We live in a fallen world. And though God can do breathlessly beautiful things with our earthly home, it will never approach what heaven will someday be.
There was an English pastor in the 1600s named Richard Baxter, who from a very young age was plagued with many physical ailments. He said once that from the age of 21 he was “seldom an hour free from pain.” John Piper writes about him on his blog, “desiring God.” One time he got very sick, at the age of 35, and though he believed in spiritual healing, he didn’t think he would recover. So he began to meditate on the joys of heaven and the age to come, as he prepared to leave the world. He especially focused on “the hope of glory” and began to write his thoughts down. To his surprise, he got better, and his writings became the book The Saints’ Everlasting Rest.
Richard Baxter then adopted the practice of meditating on heaven every day for a half an hour, because of the powerful impact it had on his life. He said
If you would have light and heat, why are you not more in the sunshine? For want of this recourse to heaven, your soul is as a lamp not lighted, and your duty as a sacrifice without fire. Fetch one coal daily from this altar, and see if your offering will not burn . . . Keep close to this reviving fire, and see if your affections will not be warm.1
This 17th-century pastor had it figured out. As Christians we are not of this world. We are a peculiar people, born of this world but meant for another, yet . . . yet we focus so much of our energies on this earthly life. Then, when the dishwasher breaks or the children get sick, or somebody at work says something offensive to us, or even the weather takes a nasty turn for the worst, we are crushed. But we don’t have to be.
Paul said in Colossians 3:
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
There will be another day to bolster fences and stack tomato cages and split firewood and dust the house. Until there’s not. I thank God that I have this pleasant way of life to keep my occupied and productive, but I know that it’ll never be perfect.
And I’m so thankful that I serve a God who will take what is imperfect and Undone and make it so thrillingly beautiful.
I hope you have a blessed day, Gentle Reader, and I want to remember you one more time of my sweet seed giveaway that you can still take advantage of. I’m sending 8 packets of 8 different colors of heirloom tomatoes, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, to one lucky reader! It’s quick and so easy to enter this drawing, with the Rafflecopter thing below. Plus, you can enter every day! But there are only 4 days left!
Enter today, and share this opportunity with your friends, too!
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