The seed planted for the unimaginable

It is our natural tendency to wonder and want to know what’s ahead. What will our new bodies be like? Will I still have this same shape? Will you still have curly hair? Will we recognize each other? What “age” will we be? And what will these bodies be doing—working? playing? hugging and kissing? needing rest and food? Will the person whose body now craves running find that heaven has marathons? Will I be able to enjoy every food I want and not have to think about pounds and cholesterol?

Jesus talks about people feasting in His kingdom. In several of His parables, people recognize each other in the next life. Prophecies have many references to things we know now—things like farming and vineyards, productive work and travel and worship and governing leaders. Google it. You’ll find all sorts of opinions about what our bodies will be like.

Of course, all of the prophecies are presented in language we understand now and activities familiar to us now. Most of us interpret the “streets of gold” as a figurative description. And thus, even to talk about heavenly “bodies” carries so much of earthly description and implication that we are at a loss to imagine what our new bodies will be like.

That’s okay. Our puzzlement is quite Scriptural.

There is one thing that we know—the bodies we have now will be resurrected. Raised, to new capacities and existence. Not done away with, as so many folks might think. But brought into something so new we can’t imagine it.

It’s the season of pumpkins. At a pumpkin festival in October, one of the events was the official weigh-off of many huge pumpkins aspiring to be the champion. Folks plant a seed no bigger than a thumbnail, and that small sliver grows into something much bigger and very different. The winner this year exceeded all previous records—1727.5 pounds of orange pumpkin, almost the size of a VW Bug. Imagine that.

But if you had never seen a pumpkin before, even a small one, could you have imagined such a thing as you watched as a small seed was buried in the dirt?

Apostle Paul uses this analogy in 1 Corinthians 15 when he writes about our new, heavenly bodies. What we put in the ground at the end of this life is only “a bare seed” of what will be. And then, just as God brings giant pumpkins from thin disks of seed, He will give us the bodies He wants us to have.

How can we even imagine what those will be? We don’t have words or the capacity to grasp it.

These things we are promised, though:

Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. (verse 42)
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. (verse 43)
They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. (verse 43)
They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. (verse 44)
We’re now earthly people… we will be heavenly people someday. (verse 49).

These physical bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever (verse 50) and so “our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die.”

Suits me.

Even if I don’t know all the details.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be quite content and satisfied in my new body.

 

 

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Psalm Prayer:

I am trusting you, O LORD,
saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.
Let your favor shine on your servant.
In your unfailing love, rescue me.
(Psalm 31:14-16)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

2 thoughts on “The seed planted for the unimaginable

  1. Elaine,Just yesterday in Bible class one of my ladies asked (privately)  about death, cremation (is it wrong?  Her husband wants to be cremated and can God find his body, etc)   I would like to share this post with her if that is acceptable with you.

    • Absolutely, Dorothy. Use this however you wish.
      I’d be interested in what your answer to her was.
      I’ve never found Scripture that says anything directly about cremation, but I do have my opinion.
      If God can put together and resurrect and recreate whatever is left of, say, George Washington or anyone else who is now merely dust…can’t He collect or take whatever He needs to resurrect a body that is ash? Or drowned and buried in the ocean’s waters? Or burned in an airplane crash or on a funeral pyre? Don’t want to be morbid. But you get my drift?
      I think God will do what He says He can and will do, no matter what our cultural traditions are or what might have happened to our earthly bodies.

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