At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Revelation 4: 2-8
This was the third year that I have asked God for (and received) a word theme for the new year. In the past I had shared the word, but this year I did not because I felt like there was much unfolding that would need to take place before I would understand what God was teaching me. I wrote the word in the front of my Bible and went on, not having a clue where this was going.
The word was "worth."
Well, as I have been writing about over the past few days, this has been a hard year for me. As I have confessed my weakness and looked at my days with fresh eyes I am struck with how God brings things full circle. As the year draws to a close, here I sit...writing out the book of Revelation. Writing it in cursive, taking my time, paying close attention to detail because every word is holy.
Revelation...the vision given to John. The glimpse of what is coming, what is in existence that we cannot yet see. Encouragement to the Church as we await the promise of Jesus' return that he is, in fact, really coming for us. He will come soon and we are wise to long for that day. God reminds us of what he has in store beyond this life with a foretaste of beauty beyond what our human imaginations can comprehend.
Picture it, or at least try. Read the description of the throne. A rainbow, flashes of lightning, peals of thunder. A see of crystal clear glass. God, seated on his throne surrounded by and the source of incredible beauty.
This, what John attempts to describe in his limited human vocabulary, is what awaits us! Laundry, dirty floors, hurried schedules, persecution and hardships are all the Lord's refining work, preparing us for this...this unbelievably beautiful place that we will forever call home. All the struggle, all the questions and fears, all the muddied stares into dim mirrors will be made clear and, my friends, all the junk we wade through now...even to the point of dying for our faith... will be WORTH IT.
Do you hear me? It will be totally worth it! Just as a new mama cradles her baby close immediately after the pain of childbrith or, in my case, after the heartache of parting with a grieving birthmother who walks away with tears streaming down her face, the joy is worth the pain. Will the pain be remembered? I believe so. But it will be given the perspective of eternity, of how it fit into the tapestry that is our life in the context of the Kingdom of God. As the world seems to fall into chaos and we fight to keep our families intact and teach our kids to think completely opposite of the twisted logic society uses to indoctrinate them we can lift up our eyes and fix them on Jesus. We do our best but we remember, always, that it is not about us. Success or failure in any area of life is ultimately for the glory of God and we are only called to be faithful in whatever he places before us, not to measure our success by the world's standards. My life may appear in some eyes to be a total disaster, but if I have been faithful despite the confusion then the One who writes my story will look at me and say, "Well done."
In the end, that is all that matters.
Whatever the rest of my days hold, I can choose to trust God's loving hand is on me. I can choose to believe his promises for me and those I love even when their lives don't look like I would have wanted them to because, the truth is, I didn't exactly walk a straight path to Jesus in my early years of life. Far from it. Yet He brought me to himself and changed me from the inside out. He has proven himself faithful over and over. In my life, and the lives of more people than I can count, God has taken rebel hearts and molded them into beautiful and strong servants. When I don't trust him, I am choosing to ignore all the years he has spent proving himself to me.
But when I do trust him, I remember. I remember the glimpse he gave to John, passed down to us over centuries. I remember the stories of those who have gone before me, whose eyes lit up with wonder and smiles spread across disease-weary faces as they crossed of from this life to the next. In that moment, with just one glance at glory, all the suffering was worth it.
For every one of us, no matter how trivial or extreme the suffering may be in the eyes of the world, Heaven will most certainly be worth it.