|Photo by John Trainor 2013
Saturday, August 1, 2015
We Shall Be As He Is!
Have you ever seen people fold dollar bills or bills of higher denomination so that the President’s portrait or the landmark building on the reverse side metamorphoses into a mushroom or some other image? It’s just a cheap parlor trick, but it does remind us of the truth that what we see may be a distortion of what truly is.
I recently had a dream like that. In the dream, I was viewing photographs of myself from college years and beyond. A software program displayed the images on my computer screen, at first chronologically and one by one, then in kaleidoscopic collages with the individual images rapidly changing in size, position, and juxtaposition.
The flirtatious glance of the young woman seated on the bronze tiger statue at Princeton gave way to the weary, sleep-deprived, and overworked frown of the medical intern. Then the intense, longing look of new love, and the radiant, joyful smile just before the preacher said “You may now kiss the bride.” The elated grin just after delivery, snuggling our precious infant son in my arms.
Images of my face then started to blend with those of my loved ones – my husband, our son, my parents, the Pastor who baptized us once we were saved, my maid of honor whom I led to the Lord -- and it seemed that each of these faces had left their mark on my own. Still more images -- of worry over daily struggles; celebration at holidays and birthdays; grief at funerals; anticipation as our son, now a handsome young man, strode masterfully across the stage to receive his college diploma with highest honors.
With the passing years, my face began to take on the inevitable changes due to the curse of sin, sorrow, and aging traced all the way back to the rebellion of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). “Laugh lines” that aren’t so funny, and “lines of expression,” even though I know my eyes and mouth would be much more expressive without them.
And then I saw the most amazing image of all! With deft artistry, the software rapidly sorted through all the images, selecting part of a smiling lip from one photo, a twinkle in the eye from another, a few pixels here and a few pixels there, until I saw a completely different representation of “my” countenance.
It was the beautiful face of an innocent young child, yet timeless and ageless thanks to an overlay of wisdom, completion, and maturity. It radiated love, peace and joy. It was a compilation of all my best features, feelings, and experiences, blended by the Master into a unique representation of who I would one day become in Him.
I awoke from the dream longing for the glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:40-49) He has promised each of His children – those who have been saved by faith in his death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). That body will never age, feel pain or sorrow, get sick or die.
When He returns for us at the Rapture, we will be instantly changed to be like Him, and we will meet Him and one another in the air, never again to leave His radiant presence (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Only then will we experience true and eternal joy (1 Peter 1:8), love (1 Corinthians 13:13), and peace (Philippians 4:7).
Each of us will be recognizable to one another, perhaps not through our appearance, but in some way through an amalgamation of our most positive and distinctive qualities and experiences, as in my dream. The resurrected Christ did not lose the nail prints in His hands and feet, nor His spear wound (John 20:27), for these were a permanent emblem of the sacrifice He so lovingly and completely made for us.
When Peter saw Moses and Elijah glorified with Christ at His transfiguration, he instantly knew who they were (Matthew 17:1-4), even though they had died more than hundreds of years before, and he would have no way of recognizing them except in the supernatural.
I believe that when we see our loved ones in Christ in Heaven, we will immediately recognize them even though they will no longer bear the scars of sickness and aging. Regardless of how young or old we are when we go home to Him, we will be youthful, vibrant, and radiant like the risen Christ.
I believe we will still show the distinctive features of our life story, experiences, and earthly relationships, yet transformed by our new purity of heart and absence of sin. We will be changed so much that God will give each of us a new name (Revelation 2:17). The end result may be a face that glows with innocence and His holiness, but that is ageless and timeless because it belongs to a soul transformed by God’s wisdom (Romans 12:2).
This dream also reminded me that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), texturing our countenance, our lives, and our eternal being by allowing trials as well as blessings to shape us, bringing us closer to and more like Him in faith. Like a Master Sculptor seeing Michelangelo’s David in a block of marble, God sees in each of us the potential for a unique, perfect, glorious being truly reflecting His image. He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27), and though sin has disfigured us here on earth, one day we shall be as He is! (1 John 3:2)
Slowly and deliberately He chisels our features with the suffering He allows in our life to conform us to His image (Philippians 3:10). Gently He softens the rough edges with the Godly friends, teachers, and pastors He directs to our path (Proverbs 27:17). Faithfully He lights the fire of the Holy Spirit shining through our eyes and glowing in our faces so that we can be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:15), just as He is the One True Light (John 1:9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46).
Until we receive our new, timeless countenance, may we let His light illuminate our faces and see others as He sees us, each with the potential to be like Him in glory!
© 2015 Laurie Collett