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It Is the Journey
By David Prather
On the Wild Side
As Published in THE TITUSVILLE HERALD, Titusville, Pa.
This is the week that we lost Chick Hearn and the week that I took my own most intimate look into the jaws of death. Facing death must be more distasteful than eating broccoli when you hate it or spending a month in the hospital when you want to be camping in Colorado. God calls death our last enemy, but the threat of dying brings with it the gift of deep introspection.
I will be the first to admit that mid-life crisis may cause a man to wonder if he has engineered a better bridge, reached the top of his golf game, or laid on the beach sipping Tequila, but death can cause us to ponder even the value of our higher achievements.
“In God we trust” is a very popular phrase right now. Conservationists, environmentalists, and people who simply care about the survival of all things wild and wonderful can pour out a generation of blood, sweat and tears, but unless the Creator holds back the hand of those who would leave nothing for tomorrow, there would be nothing for tomorrow. The fact is when we leave this place, it is either “in God we trust,” or we leave it to futility.
Monday, I sat in the passenger side as my wife took her cat into the vet’s office. I had my eyes closed and my head against the headrest listening to a well-known woman evangelist. She was explaining how we could realize our greatest dreams. A gentleman approached my window, lit up a smoke and began talking to me. He paid no attention to the evangelist nor could he have paid attention to my condition. Inside my chest, my heart was being squeezed like a baseball in the hands of a championship pitcher. For the last twenty-four hours, it felt like I had a cannon ball lodged between my shoulder blades, and I had the strength of a newborn. As he talked about various earthly pursuits, I wondered why I was having the attack, and he, much older, was in surprisingly good health.
As he spoke about fishing, farming and timbering, I wondered if he had ever thought about eternity. I don't even like to go down a waterslide without anticipating what is at the bottom and I had to smile because I was looking at the immediate possibility of taking a very long trip and he had no idea.
My favorite gospel tract is about a king who sent a court jester across the land to find a bigger fool than himself and to hand him a golden scepter. Returning a year later without a new fool, the jester got bad news from the king. “I am ill and am going on a long journey from which there is no return.” Have you prepared for this journey, the jester asked the King. When the King replied, “No,” the jester handed him the golden scepter.
I recently watched Larry King interview Art Linkletter. Linkletter said he wasn't sure if he wanted to go to heaven because he wasn't sure there was much to do there. Art said he asked Billy Graham about this and Billy couldn't give him a satisfactory answer about what you do in heaven either. I hear so many people of faith talking about going to heaven, but very few acknowledging that Heaven's destination is earth and that before we ever heard about people who can't wait to defraud their stock-holders, log the last oldgrowth, or snap off your car antenna, God was talking about a new Earth.
I've had the privilege of knowing a couple people in my lifetime that got a glimpse of that new Earth. One of them cried for joy continually for a full day every time he thought of the love and peace and joy in that place. Lions lie down with lambs and bears eat straw with oxen. Every time He gets the chance, Spirit comes down and plays with biology like a child with a box of sparklers. Next thing you know you've got seas lighting up with phosphorus, pumas carrying their kittens to a cave’s sun-drenched lip, and Bull Elk calling across a canyon at a herd of approaching cows eager to fill next year’s meadow with life.
Some people believe there is nothing after death. Others, like me, find that the canvas is colored in every direction. Beneath cells, there are atoms. Beyond our galaxy, there are billions more. Not everyone gets to go to one Laker’s game, but everyone gets to go on this other journey with the potential destination of the New Earth.
True enough it has been a very long time coming, this new earth. But it isn't just the destination that is wild, it is also the journey.
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