After a very long, very cold winter here in the Northeast, I took my two sons out for a walk on the first nice day we’d had in months. As we turned a corner onto a long straight sidewalk, my 18-month-old wriggled down from my arms and took off running. He ran for a third of a mile. (Fortunately his legs are really short so I was able to keep up!) I was amused by his reaction to wide open spaces. He had obviously been indoors far too long.
I wonder if this experience could be an analogy for eternity, a concept I don’t understand (and I doubt I am alone). We understand the limits of this world; we understand the finite. But the infinite? We only have brief glimpses of it, short bursts of understanding that flash in our minds and disappear quickly. I had one of these bursts as I watched my son running as far and free as his little legs would take him after being pent up in the house all winter. For Eli, being so young, winter was the only reality he could remember. His was a restricted world – indoors except for quick trips back and forth to the car, bundled in bulky layers, glimpsing the sun only in passing, experiencing the beauties of winter from the other side of a window. Of course it wasn’t all bad – there was warmth inside, family, food, books and toys. But spring? This was new. It meant being outdoors, a seemingly limitless place full of wonders and discoveries. It meant boundless freedom that went on and on, all the way down Milford Point Road.
Eternity hangs around the edges of our consciousness – a promise we can’t live without, but an incomprehensible future that may scare us a bit because of its…forever-ness. It isn’t our fault that we just don’t get it – it is something we have never experienced. But here we trust – we live in trusting expectation. For now, our winter does have its joys, and one of them is the anticipation of spring.
"No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9).