You know you're way overdue sending out an update when you go to type "Update #…" and you cannot for the life of you remember what number you're on.
And then…when you look back and realize you're on Update #66 (66!), you immediately start to feel super sorry for all the people who will be, once again, opening this email or clicking on this post and reading it!
In fact, I'm thinking I should send probably send these out with that "unsubscribe" option that other mass email senders give you. Because, when I put myself in your shoes and realize that some of you NEVER signed up to be on a 3+ year email distribution list, I actually laugh at the absurdity of it. Because you and I both know that there's no great way of asking to be taken off this distribution list. Although I'm being honest when I tell you that I'm totally cool with you requesting to be removed, I can't imagine (when I put myself in your shoes) what it would be like to send me that request.
Yes, I'm laughing. How awkward for you! I guess you're stuck…unless you're very, very brave!
So, I'm actually typing this at 36,000 feet as I'm headed to a MOPS board meeting in Denver.
I love to fly.
I absolutely love it.
There was a time about 14 years ago when I started to get fearful of flying.
And then I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (1st time).
And I realized that the worst thing that could happen to me on a plane would be a far less painful and a far more newsworthy event than dying of cancer.
When I compared the worst that could happen on a plane with the worst that could happen in a cancer hospital, my fear of flying dissipated.
Perspective changes everything, doesn't it?
Yesterday I started a new Bible study with my Tuesday morning Bible study girls.
We're taking on the joy of studying what the Bible says about Heaven.
And we're taking on the challenge of studying what the Bible says about Hell.
As you can imagine, this will be a fun semester (when we're studying Heaven) and a terribly difficult semester (when we're studying Hell).
Although I can't predict all that we'll learn, one thing of which I am sure: it, too, will be a perspective shifter.
Because in the past year, as I've been pursuing a deeper understanding of what God says about Heaven, my expectations for this side of life are changing.
And that's a hard thing to come to grips with.
But it's a good thing.
A really, really good thing.
There's a popular saying (and you all know by now that I'm not a fan of simplifying statements that would fit on refrigerator magnets) that says that life isn't really about the date you were born or the date you die, but life is all about what you do with the dash; you know, that little character "-" that represents the number of years you live on earth.
I don't disagree that what you do with that dash is far more important than how long that dash represents.
But what I'm coming to greatly appreciate is that that dash is not synonymous with life.
While it's synonymous with life on earth, it's not even close to being synonymous with eternal life in Heaven.
Life on Earth, according to the Psalms, is just a breath when you compare it to life in Heaven.
Don't believe me?
In reading this email, you've probably taken about 28 breaths.
Yikes; this is a heavy email, isn't it?
Again, do you wish you could "unsubscribe"?
I get it.
For some of you, Heaven may sound like a fanciful, fairytale, pipe-dream kind of thing. The stuff that Disney created and something flimsy and unreliable at best. Heaven for you may be a "no way am I putting any of my eggs in that basket" kind of thing.
For others of you, my growing understanding of, and anticipation for, Heaven falls squarely into the basic of all basic truth. Of course there's a Heaven. Of course knowing about it and living for it changes everything. This email for you is, to use my 1980's intellectual term, is a "no duh" kind of a thing.
But for others (and this is where I've been) Heaven may be something that you've loosely been thankful for, but hasn't really had much bearing on your day-to-day choices. Certainly not something that has made a day-to-day difference in bringing comfort, joy, hope or peace.
If you're in this last category, then I hope you, like me, are encouraged to pursue a deeper understanding of Heaven by something Randy Alcorn says in his book, Heaven. He says, "How can we set our hearts on Heaven when we have an impoverished theology of Heaven?"
An impoverished view of Heaven.
I don't want that anymore.
Because an impoverished view of Heaven offers no hope against cancer.
An impoverished view of Heaven offers no hope against the difficulties of living out uncertainties.
An impoverished view of Heaven offers no hope against the wonderings and worries that come with thinking that life is all about the "dash".
So, my friends, as I'm flying over the twinkling lights of some city thousands of miles below me, my hope for all of us is that we have ears to hear, eyes to see, a mind to imagine and a Spirit to trust in the One who makes Heaven a reality.
P.S. If you get this email, you'll know I landed safely in Denver. :)
P.P.S. And, a safe landing means that I (pending another safe landing on my way home!) I go to Roswell on Wednesday (1/22) to talk to my doctor about other treatment options. This old body is feeling more and more bone discomfort. Yeehaw.