Another birthday, and I find myself this morning crying at a footnote at the bottom of a page.
I was reading how the apostle Paul journeyed to Ephesus, a stronghold of paganism and magic arts, bringing Good News, the message of hope and peace.
When they reached Ephesus, Paul left Priscilla and Aquila behind, then he went into the synagogue and spoke to the Jews. (Acts 18:19)
I looked below:
Ephesus was in the ancient world, a white marble city, one of the most beautiful in the world. It had the temple of Artemis, one of the seven great wonders of that era. It also had two agoras, a beautiful fountain in the city supplied by an aqueduct…a large stadium, and many terraced houses…It was in this backdrop that the apostle Paul and his companions planted the renowned church of Ephesus.
Why was the description of a now-ruined city making me weep?
I’m always a bit raw this time of year – wondering about my would-be 25-year-old son.
What do you look like now?
What might you have been, here, on earth?
You were such a beautiful boy.
Trusting, hopeful, full.
Flawed, as are we all.
How transient are the things of earth.
Stretching, blooming, dying.
Falling, freezing, melting.
Later, I read:
Human beings are frail and temporary, like grass,
and the glory of man fleeting
like blossoms of the field.
The grass dries and withers and the flowers fall off,
but the Word of the Lord endures forever!
And this is the Word that was announced to you! (1 Peter 1:24,25)
Do tears fall because that no matter how beautiful things are here – even a gleaming metropolis hewn from marble white, or the sign of a promise in the sky – they can never compare to the beauty of your eternal church, your heavenly city, your promised forever?
Paul. Knew. This.
He was beaten, stoned, left for dead, his only crime spreading kingdom seed.
And yet he was still able to say, as I am today:
We may suffer, yet in every season we are always found rejoicing…We seem to have nothing, yet in reality we possess all things. (2 Corinthians 6:10)
There’s still work to do here, of course.
Hard, humble work.
Forgive the ones who have done us wrong, pray for the sick, practice peace and patience and love.
Make ourselves ready.
Soon and very soon.