I grappled long and hard with the two-word exercise. After several weeks of digging deep on my temperament, strengths, passions, and desires – I settled in on these two words:
I know that probably sounds silly, and at best makes little sense, but to me it brings my purpose to ground zero and initiates the construction of my answer to the “Big Question” (from the previous post). And if you pressed me to drill further to the core, to the identification of my favorite word in the English language I would respond with:
Why? Over the past two years I’ve noticed a recurring theme in scripture, as well as the teachings of a few God appointed surrogate mentors (including Rick Warren, Jim Collins, David Wilkerson, C.S. Lewis, John Piper, and Robert McKee). These sources have provided seeds to help me think through a potential “context” for our purpose here – and in heaven. Let me explain.
I ask myself, “What is God’s #1 theme in His Story for us?”
I’ve been trying to think through this concept of purpose and service “here”, and how it affects our participation “there” in heaven. What is reward in heaven, and how does that affect our purpose here on earth?
- God is both omniscient and omnipotent – therefore He’s both all powerful and all knowing – He knows everything past, present….and….future.
- God is the Creator of all things
- God created Satan.
- God knew ahead of time (because He’s omniscient) that Satan would rebel and be thrown out of heaven.
- God created Adam and Eve – God also knew, before He created them – that they would rebel.
- God allowed a villain to enter the story of creation (Satan)
- God promises rewards in heaven, based on how faithful we are with the resources he provides us as individuals (good book to reference is Wilkerson’s A Life God Rewards).
- We will lack nothing in heaven. C.S. Lewis describes in The Great Divorce that although we live in a context of “scarcity” here on earth (always wanting more of love, money, relationships, power, prestige, comfort, health, etc.), there is no scarcity of these things that we will lack in heaven.
- There are a billion galaxies that we are aware of. There are also multiple dimensions (identified by leading authorities in physics) that God identifies in Genesis during Creation. Why so much universe for so few individuals?
- If we lack nothing physically, emotionally, and spiritually in heaven – what then are the rewards, or what type of rewards will we receive in heaven?
- The Bible is full of evidence, and Warner states in “The Purpose Driven Life”,that this life is training, a trust, and a series of tests. If that’s true, and I’m convinced it is – what are we being trained and tested for?
- If we are in constant training, and there seems to be consistent themes in the Bible as to what our training involves as well as what we are tested on – then what themes will continue from here to our existence in heaven? Love? Stewardship? Teamwork? Our personalities? Our uniqueness as individuals? Adventure? Perilous situations?
- The Bible is full of “Stories” (real as they may be) that involve God’s children in the midst of adventure, dangerous choices, villains (both physical and spiritual) – and more often than not – RESCUE on God’s part. Just over the past months I’ve run across this theme numerous times in Psalms as David cries out to the Lord to rescue – and how God does in fact, rescue us.
- God loves, as Eldredge points out in Wild at Heart, to “step in”.
- God loves it when we use our specific gifts and abilities to function as a part of the puzzle within the Body, as part of the team – to “Rescue” the hearts and lives of others.
- He’s created us with strengths and “unique nesses”, as well as “gaps” that demand the participation of other individuals in our lives to accomplish “Rescue”.
- God gave us the ultimate example of Rescue with Christ – all I could see when I watched The Passion of the Christ was God rescuing – liberating us from death – into Freedom. Think of how often the scripture refers to, and we have heralded, being “Saved”.
- God allows perilous conditions and situations to occur – even though He always knows the outcome ahead of time.
- Even though He’s omniscient and He knows what’s going to happen ahead of time – we’re not puppets – He still allows us to make choices with consequences. Also, our existence is not a game – the ramifications of the adventure and rescue He creates for us are truly perilous; with potentially perilous outcomes.
- God creates and/or allows perilous situations for our benefit – because He loves adventure, He loves rescue, and he knows we do too. Training “here” and participation “there” are created for our benefit and His glory, that we might experience purpose and adventure with Him throughout eternity.
- God loves stories – Jesus used them for illustration and that’s why we are so drawn to literature, movies, etc. that illustrate truth in our lives. Stories provide “context” for God’s love and purpose.
- God will reward us with RESPONSIBILITY – the degree we are able to participate in RESCUE throughout His creation for eternity. Therefore, our willingness to embrace and engage in His purpose here – will dramatically affect our ability to participate there. As I watched Bill Bright’s (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) funeral a few years ago, I experienced a strange emotion. Not loss or sadness – instead I felt envy for what adventure and responsibility I knew was waiting for him on the other side.
- There are many “themes” that we experience here on earth that will continue in Heaven. Dare I also suggest there will be villains as well as heroes?
- We will still function as part of a team – this is too prevalent a theme not to continue.
And as crazy as it sounds, I believe we’ll participate in God’s “Rescue Story” not only in this limited” existence, but also in an infinitely more expanded capacity in heaven. How exciting would it be to participate in “Heavenly Rescue Squads” for other societies, in other galaxies or dimensions? What if the themes we experience here – together – are just a “minimalized” foretaste of the adventures we’ll experience – together – in the future? What if God created and inserted us into perilous stories elsewhere that had real heroes (us) and villains, with real – and potentially perilous – consequences? In “Desiring God”, John Piper describes that God’s glory makes him “happy”. What could we do to bring Him more glory in eternity than for us to participate, as rescue squads in a continuous stream of stories involving the ultimate theme He illustrated throughout history
Is it possible that our willingness to “rescue hearts” in this life directly contributes to the degree to which we will participate in the same theme in eternity? As men, we especially need a reason to live with purpose, focus, and courage. We need to believe that how we live here has incredible and exciting consequences in eternity. I’m excited just at the thought of one day joining arms with my current close brothers and sisters to participate in the liberation of hearts here and throughout God’s creation.
I love stories and movies with “Rescue” as a central theme. In the recent hit “I Am Legend”, Will Smith plays a doctor who desperately seeks an antidote to an airborne virus that has not only eliminates most of the world’s population; it also mutates a number of the remaining survivors. In this final scene involving Smith’s character – Dr. Neville makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his two companions and preserve the foundation of the antidote for the other survivors.
What would it be like to participate harmoniously with comrades in saving the hearts of others? Everyone has a word – the word for me is RESCUE.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
II Samuel 22: 17-20