As I pour over every detail of their faces known only to me through a handful of photographs, I marvel at the feelings these pictures evoke. Even now, I struggle to find the words to accurately communicate the feelings stirring in me — many for the first time. Pieces of my heart awaken, morph and change. How is it possible to feel so complete and yet incomplete at the same time?
Their story is still a mystery to me, one that will be carefully uncovered over time. A story that will begin to heal only through the power and grace of God’s love. However, I cannot help but wonder… How did he get that scar? From whom did she get those eyes? How does he like to spend his days? Of what does she dream at night? What must they think as they stare into our photographed faces, looking so very different from their own? The questions barrel through my mind like a train whistling through a tunnel. The engine speeds faster and faster — heading toward the light. A light that speaks not of this world, but of the next.
Many people continually ask me how I am doing. Truthfully, the answer to this question is so complicated, I’m not even sure I understand my own responses. Those of you that have graciously entered into conversation with me know circular words and logic seem to be my general mode of operation! Socratic thinking is no stranger to me. My mind twists and turns through unchartered territory. But perhaps the water cooler answer is that I feel like I am living in two different worlds. The known and the unknown. The “here and now” and the “one that is yet to come.”
I feel like a caterpillar in a cocoon. My heart senses a new reality coming… A reality that is simultaneously exciting and scary. I don’t yet know what it is like to be a butterfly, but I know God will undergird my wings and I am compelled towards this change.
As I try to wrap my head around this virtual paradox I am reminded that this is exactly where God wants me to be. He doesn’t want me to feel comfortable in this world. This world full of chronological time and gravity and brokenness is only a temporary stop on our way to eternity. His invitation beckons, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
We are to be “in the world, but not of the world”. Knowing full well this way of thinking is a daily struggle, I continually attempt to reset my focus on God, for He has placed each of us in this world for a time and for a reason.
Let us never weary of doing good here on earth, but since we have been”raised to new life with Christ” we may “set our sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is our real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in his glory” (Colossians 3:1-4).
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes of a similar struggle to my own. His heart grieves the fact that he has not seen those friends at Laodicea face to face. Although their dear faces are unknown to him, Paul prays “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. … For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit…” (Colossians 2:2-5).
I cling to these words. My heart longs for this tale. A tale of two cities. One black and one white. One here and one there.
Absent in body, knit together in love.
In the best of times and in the worst of times, may I rest in this holy paradox…