From All Things New
The north shore of Kauai is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and the pastures above the cliffs overlooking Anini Beach are some of the last open lands in that paradise. From those verdant meadows you can look out on the whales and dolphins playing in the Pacific, watch the breakers roll in and crash over the reef below. It is an enchanting place that casts an Eden-like spell on even the most cynical tourist. A friend of ours has been advocating for the protection of those gorgeous meadows; he took us there last winter to see a view that may soon be available only to the very rich. The pastures have already been marked out for small five-acre “ranchettes,” each plot going for several million; add to that the home required by the development and the bill will run more than $20 million. “The young rich have discovered Kauai,” our friend told us. “Zuckerberg has a home here; so do the guys from Apple and Google. This is the place to be.”
We stood there watching the gulls and frigate birds soaring on the warm updrafts, drinking in the beauty only money can apparently buy. It had been raining; a rainbow appeared over the lush cliffs to our right. The untouched beauty of the place feels like it has been held in time since the islands were formed; unblemished beauty. Forgetting what the promise means, my heart began to ache again for life as it was meant to be, and I started to scramble internally trying to figure out how we could grab our own little slice of Eden.
“They are looking for the kingdom,” Stasi said. “They are trying to buy the kingdom.”
And with that, the spell was broken. Suddenly the emptiness of it all became clear – not the longing for Heaven on Earth, but the grasping to buy it, to arrange for our piece of it apart from the palingenesia.
Now, most of the human race doesn’t have the kind of money that allows them to purchase paradise – we sure don’t – but that doesn’t stop our ravenous hunger or desperate searching. I was sitting in the waiting room of my dentist yesterday, catching up on some light reading. The article I opened to was entitled, “Kingdom Come,” a location piece about the glorious biking available in rural Vermont. As if Heaven had come to Earth. But every sport has its fantasy periodical, its pornography – surfing, skiing, sailing, travel, you name it. Those luscious photo journals filled with gorgeous places where Shangri-La can be found.
Nathaniel Hawthorn wrote, “Our creator would never have made such lovely days and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them above and beyond all thought unless we were meant to be immortal.” The longing isn’t the issue; our timing is. We keep mistaking the message of the promise and forget – we must wait for the renewal of all things if we would truly find Heaven on Earth.
I am troubled by the growing sophistication of video games and virtual reality. The technology has jumped light-years since Pac-Man and Mario Brothers. Now we have complex story lines set in breathtaking fantasy worlds; there you get to have marvelous adventures and do heroic deeds. The Assassin’s Creed series has sold close to a hundred million copies as of June 2015, the Elder Scrolls franchise more than forty million copies worldwide. The reason for their wild popularity goes far beyond escapism; the “kingdoms” found in those games touch the very hunger in our souls God made for the palingenesia.
But perhaps you are not a gamer, so let me point you to something far more common: the “bucket list.” The euphemism is household vernacular, at least in the Western world where incomes provide some room for daydreaming. “What’s on your bucket list?” is standard cocktail party fare and a question used in interviews when the potential employer is trying to “get to know you.”
I’ve had an embarrassing reaction to bucket lists for some time, and only recently have I understood why. Friends and acquaintances will speak excitedly about something on their bucket list – sailing to Tahiti, visiting the Holy Land, taking a motorcycle trek through Asia – and I feel completely baffled. At first I thought it was because I don’t have a bucket list, can’t even name the top things that would make my list, and I thought, Maybe I don’t allow myself to dream. But clarity came as I thought more about the Restoration.
The renewal of all things is meant to be the center of our view of the world, our hopes, and our tangible expectations as we plan our lives going forward. The phrase bucket list comes from the expression, “kick the bucket,” the day we give it all up. A bucket list means those things we hope to do before we die. Meaning, it’s now or never, baby. Bucket list mentality is very revealing and even more tragic, because it betrays our belief that this life really is our only chance. After all – we think the Earth is destroyed and we go to the pews in the sky. No wonder the human race grows more desperate in our search for kingdom counterfeits.
I believe this is the secret behind the explosion of sexual deviancy across the planet. When millions of children are trafficked annually into the sex trade, when pornography and prostitution are billion-dollar industries, when one in four girls and one is six boys will be sexually abused before they reach adulthood, you have a world where sexual desire has gone psychopathic. Next step is the virtual reality I named above; when intimate erotic experience far beyond normal human relations becomes available in any fashion, anytime, we will lose millions more souls to the dark addiction.
As I have explained, human beings are ravenous creatures. Our hope is ungrounded, untethered. A famished craving compels us toward some sort of relief. The traditional institutions meant to anchor human psychology have all but crumbled, releasing the ravenous beast to range unchecked into any and every dark option. Inevitably, something or someone gets in the way, and we are ready to kill. Thus the hatred that is exploding around the world. We live in wicked, violent times; I fear worse may happen by the time this book is published.
The hatred speaks of desperation. The desperation speaks of our soul’s unbelief in the Restoration. It’s that simple.