Friday, June 13, 2014

Seeking the City and the God Who Built It

"In this world," wrote Benjamin Franklin, "nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Electric Ben names two constants in our lives, and one is the ultimate reminder that there are no constants. Nothing, beginning with our own lives, lasts forever.

Since nothing lasts forever, maybe we should say the one constant in this temporal world is change. If you've reached your middle years, you know this because you've lived it. What's more, you know that even positive change brings loss with it, because moving from one thing to another means leaving something behind. We all lose even when we're moving forward. Age brings increased awareness of the constancy of change and loss, and knowledge of the ever-present insecurity of our lives.

Even marriage, the most secure of this world's institutions, has change and loss written right into the vow that establishes it. We "forsake all other" and "keep me only unto thee," a promise to never change allegiance in ever-changing circumstances—"better or worse, richer or poorer . . . "—but only "until death do us part." And death, as Ben Franklin reminded us, is one of this life's certainties, a certainty that grows more obvious as we grow older.

Because we live where nothing lasts forever, we are constantly reminded of our own limits and the limits of our world. We can’t—at least I can’t—help but long for more: for something beyond this world, for something fully forever alive, for something that satisfies permanently.

A longing for more is another of the blessings of the middle years—and the year after the middle, too. The losses we experience force us to stop seeking our fulfillment in this world and begin looking to another world, where there is, for certain, no losing and no dying. For a believer, growing older should grow faith, so that like Abraham, we look forward to the heavenly country, to the city built by God—the permanent city, the one with foundations (Hebrews 11:10, 13-16)—where we can be forever with our eternal, unchanging, wholly-satisfying Lord.

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