In a recent visit to a psychiatric ward I had an opportunity to spend some quality time with a young man who had gotten the real world confused with his imagination. It created some problems when he took some actions that would be ok in a comic book or video game, but not on a city street. It just simply is not considered a reasonable choice to try to fly from a tall building’s roof.
Driving home, I thought about what a thin line separates reality and fantasy. This young man is bright, articulate and engaging. But one day he smoke too much dope and decided he was Super Man. Three days later, he’s sitting on a psyc ward wondering why he’s not back in his dorm room studying for mid-terms.
Aware of this thin line, and being a religious person, I sometimes question my own take on reality. When I want to call an annoying person my enemy and punch their lights out, I must pause to remember that this is not my reality. This is me being triggered by an emotion and a series of thoughts that do not agree with my values. On those days when I am asked to do something hard, I might start out thinking that I cannot do this very hard thing. But I have to pause, prepare, and remember what is true: just because something is hard, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. Because I am a person who believes in The Spirit of God, I am committed to the perspective that there is more to life than what I can see, smell, taste, feel and hear. But it is hard when I’m walking down the street and there is a cold, hungry, homeless man asking me for some change. It is hard to believe in the dignity of all while observing such depersonalization of a man in need. I, who believe that all mankind and each individual is valuable, still waffle on whether or not giving him a few coins is an act of kindness or condescension.
This is why I keep returning to the word of God for clarification. Tomorrow, we’re going to the back of the good book to catch a glimpse into a world we cannot see but dare to believe in. To set the stage, let me leave you with this vision: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”5 Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5 CEB