Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

I get tired, and I know I’m not alone. We are tired of all we do. We are weary of words. There are so many of them. When I think of writing anything, but am wary of words, I get tired. How can I write on a topic without presumption that has been covered so many times by so many skillful people?

Perhaps, just perhaps, hope can be found in our weariness. Being hungry does not prove there is food to eat, but does give hope that there was once food. My weariness of words and my failure to communicate gives hope that, perhaps, there was once real communication and rest.

In making many words there is weariness, but perhaps there was once a true Word. This Word speaking Itself would bring our minds to life. It would not end questions, but spur them, and then answer them. This Word would be true, good, and beautiful.

If I could even echo that Word, I would be at peace. Easy to see that no human could say such a Word on his own. Our problem is not questioning, but where our questions start. We start with selfishness and not love, with wickedness and not the good, and cheap kitsch instead of real beauty. We often do not even mean to do it. Selfishness feels like love to us, wicked acts look good to us, and the new and improved looks like something beautiful to us, but when we experience it, do it, buy it, we are left alone, sterile, and chattering to ourselves.

We need a Word to unite all our words. This Word would allow us to keep speaking, but do so meaningfully and in a manner not calculated to alienate everyone else around us.

My hope is that there is such a Word and my reason sets me to listen for it. My ears are bad and the world is noisy, but eventually, faintly, echoes of the Word reach even me.

How? The Word came down and spoke to us directly, plainly, and unforgettably. The Word knew we were tired of listening, of failing in our futile attempts to recreate a sound we had lost. He took on flesh, unimaginable gift, and showed us what to do with it.

Even that would not be enough for someone in my state, because no matter how clear the instructions I can still manage to mess up the creation. Seeing what to do, hearing what to say is not enough if your tongue manages to mess up the words. The Word became flesh and I see His glory, but my imitation turns into a cheap knock off. My attempts to say what He is saying comes off as clearly as the worst copy of a movie you buy from China on EBay.

Pirating Jesus is not good enough.

That is why language like “being born again” is so important to me. I need help from the inside out. The Word needs to be inside of me, changing me, my desires, dreams, and tastes. I want to be myself, but in a way that leaves me unified and a friend to the Word and all creation.

This is a long journey given how broken I am. When people talk of Heaven, they mean the place where the bad part of the journey will be done. Heaven will not be an End of Everything, it will be the start of the good questions and the best answers, but an End to Futility.

There the Music I keep hearing through the thumping muzak the culture pumps out will be heard without distortion. My ears will be healed. Better still, I have noticed a desire to ignore that still, small sound by pumping my head full of muzak I select, but in Heaven I will finally remove the headphones from my ears and turn from canned concerts to live Music.

Of course, I will not just hear, I will see. What will I see? God, of course, but God is a very big Person and my eyes, even in Heaven, are very small. In Heaven, I will see God through Jesus, the God-man. He is not just an image of God, an icon, but Very God and looking at Him in His human nature will lead me to as much of God as men can see.

Think of it! I will see infinite beauty through the infinite love of Jesus. His hands are scarred by humans, because He dared to come and try to love us. Those scars are something I can understand, because I have them too, though mine are too often made by me and not just by others. Those scars will lead me forward from what I see now, dimly, through the Son, to the Father, by the power of the Spirit.

Heaven will stop being about me at all, but about Him. Seeing Him and hearing Him, the Word, would make me glad to be His slave, but He insists on calling me His brother! Seeing Him and hearing Him, the Word, would make me glad to live in a corner of His temple, but He insists on my living in a New Jerusalem, a real city of peace.

I would be happy just to lose myself, but He insists on loving me . . . and you.

Heaven will be without noise, but full of music.

Heaven will be without toil, but full of feasting.

Heaven will be without selfishness, but full of community.

There is, sadly, still more for me to learn and so this life, this school for souls, must continue for a time.

It will be worth it all when we hear Jesus.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.


Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles