I have been thinking about baby names. My niece or nephew inspire such topics. It’s weird to think that, if you were named after someone, you were named after an imperfect person. Even Biblical characters (except Jesus, obviously) were sinful. Name someone “David” and you’re naming them after an adulterer and liar. Name someone “Moses” and you’re naming them after a cowardly murderer. Noah and Abraham both participated in gross failures. The “heroes” of the New Testament are no better.
I used to read history books written for Christian schools, and I don’t regret those lessons because, as a little girl, I did learn a lot of good things. But as I get older and realize those mini-biographies were not complete, that the founders of our faith and our country were riddled with impurities and moral failures, it can be depressing. Like learning your pastor or your favorite teacher or your parent have let themselves slip in some crucial area. It’s disheartening. Like when my sister found out Emma Roberts is not exactly like Nancy Drew. Bubbles burst.
And yet, what good would it do to pretend someone was perfect? And what good would it do, to pretend I was perfect? Would that point anyone any closer to Jesus?
We idolize good people, strong people, brave people. We search high and low for pure things, true things, excellent things. But we so often come up empty-handed. Oh the contrast that heaven will bring! We will not miss this place, where good things were splattered with the mud of the earth. I nod along with Jeremiah who cried out, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9.)
We think of newborn babies as the most pure, unadulterated, innocent creatures. But where do they come from? The bodies of sinful parents. And how long before they make a name for themselves in this sinful world? No time at all. We dive for pearls and come up with seaweed. My heart hurts when I see babies born with maladies, children taught to hate, people used as slaves, beauty disgraced and bodies sold for service. But that’s where the hope comes into the picture, hidden and oft-passed-by like gold veins laced through the rocks. My heart hurts when I see these things.
As long as we care, as long as we feel the pain, as long as we lie awake at night thinking this is not the way things should be, we have hope. Because that means that this is not our home. That means that Heaven is right around the corner. That means that the things we thought were good and pure and holy are going to pale in comparison to the things we see next. That means that, though parents and pastors and teachers and leaders will fail us and break our hearts, our hearts will be mended and we will never be disappointed by treachery of hellish schemes again. We will never receive bad news again. We will never bury children again. Children will never have to “be the grown up” again. We won’t have to wonder if war and violence are ever permitted. We won’t have to debate women’s choices. We won’t have to feel guilty for the things we have. We won’t have to look away when we feel someone is peering into our own soul.
We’ll hug each other’s souls.
There will be no cowardice and no slavery and no violence and no disgrace. Just this grace: “But such saints as these look forward to a far better place, a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God because He has prepared a heavenly city for them.” Hebrews 11:16
Sometimes it sounds negative or grim or even suicidal to long for heaven, as if we cannot bear another moment on earth. But when I hear little children talk about heaven, their eagerness is truly pure. They are not embarrassed to say they are excited to walk on streets of gold and see those saints they had to say goodbye to. It’s real to them, and God is not ashamed of them.