I was with some friends yesterday and everyone was talking about their dissatisfaction with the finale to Lost; save for me and one other person. While it certainly wasn't the ending I was anticipating, the show's conclusion last month, and specifically the reveal that the characters were now meeting up in the afterlife, ready to spend eternity together with their fellow soul mates from the island, left me with a happy/wistful/strange feeling, and got me thinking.
Beth Moore, in the current study I'm doing (The Inheritance) talks about how we have it all wrong. This life is not the real thing. This current wisp of time we're in is just a shadow before the true reveal...the life beyond this life...the life that never ends. C.S. Lewis, in The Last Battle, sums it up similarly. In the conclusion to that book, to which I saw parallels to the Lost finale, the characters we read about throughout the Chronicles of Narnia are joyously reuinited on the tallest of mountains, where they look out and see their "heaven," it was the land they'd always known...yet it was richer, realer, more real than anything they'd ever experienced. The blades of grass were more green. The taste of fruit was so sweet and refreshing, that Lewis writes that the most perfectly ripened fruit in our world would in comparison taste dry, woody, sour.
I've been wondering lately how we'd live if we could grasp just a bit more how temporary our world is? I wonder what I would do if I understood that I haven't yet felt joy or seen beauty, in the way that I will? We would all live with an extra infusion of hope even in life's darkest hours, if we took a moment to examine what's really ahead, if we believe. How much do those of us who believe, believe? Believe in something beyond a fairy tale? Because God is not a cheesy God placing cherubs on puffy clouds. God is so much creative than that.
We try to grasp eternity. I remember as a child, lying in bed at night and trying to understand it. Every time I'd get a glimmer of understanding, I'd start to feel almost scared. In that second a flash would come to me reminding me how small my little life was. It wasn't a condemning feeling. I just felt...awe.
We can't even understand the universe. I remember waiting for the "T" outside of Boston and noticing a sculpture of a planet that was sponsored by the science museum. I think it was Pluto (when it was still an official planet, of course). The project was attempting to show in real life a kind of scale of distance between planets in our solar system. So the "sun" was in the science museum, and panning out from there, Mercury might have been a few streets over, or earth beyond that in another direction, and here was Pluto, out miles away, in the suburbs. Pluto, just a speck of light on a telescope, yet still within our solar system. One solar system within our Milky Way galaxy, in a universe containing literally billions of galaxies.
Space and time go hand in hand. In another Beth Moore study, Believing God, she talked about a family who lost their young son to cancer. In their immense pain of course the parents wanted to know "why." And of course she didn't have a why. But what she did know, and what she said to those parents, is that their son's suffering was a brief moment in relation to eternity. I remember her standing on the stage in that one video, providing the visual. I don't remember if she used people or what it was. But there was a line that stretched across the church, and she held up something, a yardstick or something like that, to represent each of our lifetimes. Just a sliver of it all. Even when we're slogging through despair and feel as if we've been doing so forever. Even if we have. Our forever is not His forever.
The Last Battle ends this way. I've read this over and over throughout the years, and will end with C.S. Lewis's words:
And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.