Exchanging Exile for Homecoming | 2 Cor. 5:1-11
For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. 2 Corinthians 5:1-11 | MSG
What better way to top off this week of waiting with Noah, watching him whirl (and no doubt hurl, too), writhe, and dance in his own “cramped conditions” in his floating zoo of a box, and then of finally watching him emerge onto dry ground after hearing God’s “Go out” than reflecting on Paul’s quintessential encouragement in what we know as 2 Corinthians 5. Our entire life is lived, more or less, in cramped conditions known as this body that we are stuck with, that is literally falling apart day by day. We spend our days in a fleshy (some more fleshy than others) box as we are carried along on the mabbul of life God knows where. We spruce up the boat, imagine ourselves resolutely standing at the wheel of life directing our fate, and perhaps even manage to link ourselves with other boats and in so doing become fleet builders – no mere captain, but admirals large and in charge. But he causes his wind to blow, causing the flood of our ambitions to subside, until the bottom of our box finally comes to rest in earth. Our dove is released, and the divine words which simply cannot be ignored echo over the subdued waters of our existence: “Go out.” And out we go, stepping into our new “spacious living conditions,” wide and expansive with unceasingly rich possibilities – lands to explore, crops to plant and harvest, vineyards to prepare and wine to drink (let’s just learn to say “when,” shall we?). Welcome to the New World. Only instead of plundering both land and inhabitants, we embrace all, love all. “They will not hurt or destroy” on this mountain where our bark has finally come to rest, this Ararat. Kingdom Come. We need such foretastes of the spacious accommodation of our destination to sustain our sometimes weary souls in our leaky, cracked earthy boxes. We need a little of heaven in our hearts so we won’t settle for less, because we all constantly do. And like Noah, Ararat and all the land, adventure and possibilities are never the point. We don’t serve God so we can get our heavenly mansion. We love God and get Life thrown into the mix – a foretaste now, the full feast then. The point is finding our own deep, resonant ahhhhhhhhhhhh in God (aka “pleasing him”), and as we do so finding ourselves invited to step out and into a whole New World.
Where exactly do you see yourself in this whole Noah story? Just now starting to build? In the middle of the flood? Waiting for landfall? Stepping into a new world? Why?
Lord, keep me awake to the realities of this journey through life. Help me to remember where and who I am and to embrace rather than kick at whatever cramped conditions I might be facing. Keep my heart wide and expansive with the possibilities of the New World where we are headed. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.