By Curtis K. Shelburne
I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to it, but at least it no longer surprises me as much as it once did. I’m sitting in my barber’s chair, indoors, and a gentle snow is falling onto my shoulders and gently to the ground. It’s a snow of gray, almost white, hair. And since I know that Louie is cutting my hair, not anybody else’s, it must be mine. But how could it be!?
Maybe more disconcerting was the moment recently when I was innocently washing my hands and happened to look up into a mirror and saw somebody who looked a great deal like my Granddaddy Key looking back. I liked my Granddaddy Key enormously, but I’m pretty sure I’m not ready to BE him just yet.
What scientists tell us is true, I’m sure. From the moment we’re born, we’re already, on a cellular level, beginning to die. And we all know what time does: it flies. A quick look at the faces of your kids (or grandkids!) is sure proof of that.
Thus it is good news of the very best sort for Christ to tell us that, in him, no matter where we find ourselves in our journey through this world, we are, as William Barclay writes, “on the way to life and not to death.”
Maybe one of the genuine consolations of getting older is that it usually takes a few decades for the good news of immortality in Christ to become real to us. I love this life. It’s God’s amazing gift. But I believe more strongly than ever that the life to come will be far better, that Christ’s people can look forward to it with no sense at all of loss, that nothing that brings us joy here will be anything but magnified a million times there. No loss at all. Gain in every way!
Not least, I can hardly wait for an eternity forever with the ones I love the most. I think of dear family members I long to see. What will it be worth to feel once again Mom and Dad’s embrace or to look into the eyes of my smiling grandparents? I think of the members of the “flock” of God’s people I’ve served for almost 25 years who’ve gone on into the “church victorious.”
I think of forever there with people I get to see here but never enough—my sons and daughters-in-law, and, not least—no, not least at all—two little granddaughters. All the time in the world—strike that: all the time out of the time-bound world!—to laugh and to play.
I think of forever with good friends, both those who have gone on and those still here, who I’ve loved talking with for hours but, alas, the blasted clock always frustrates and stops us. No clock there!
I think of forever to get to know the great heroes of faith.
I think—and I’m an English major, remember?—of forever with the writers who’ve used words to create worlds that have thrilled and enfolded me.
Best of all, I think of forever with the One who has always loved me completely and always been with me but who I’ll see face to face.
The good news of immortality is not just fond hope or wishful thinking. It’s real!