10.13.2023 – A Distant City

We made our first visit to Indiana’s one and only National Park earlier this week. It was a crisp and clear fall day and Indiana Dunes National Park on the south shore of Lake Michigan was at its best.  Our family from Memphis was visiting and the nearby Michigan branch joined us. It was a great outing.  We parked at the West Beach parking lot and made our way over the dunes to the beach. The views were spectacular.  Looking northwest from the dunes, the Chicago skyline was visible on the far horizon.  You can just see the Windy City in the iPhone photo I took.

Chicago has its problems, but none of them were visible 40 miles across the lake from West Beach.  Just the distant skyline.

Looking out over the lake to Chicago made me think of the image in the Book of Hebrews about the great and faithful cloud of witnesses and their desire for “a better country, a heavenly one,” and how God “has prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16) The writer goes on to implore his readers to “seek the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)

Chicago has its problems, but the city to come has none.  The new city is described in Revelation as that place where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.” (Revelation 21:4)  It will be populated by “a great multitude that no one (can) number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10)

Like the Chicago skyline seen from West Beach at Indiana Dunes National Park, the city to come is still far away, and there is nothing we can do to hasten its arrival. It comes in God’s time. Surely those whose hope is in its coming are to live and act and work in ways that reflect its “not yet” reality.

This was a week when family was visiting – two of our three children and their families all together at Indiana Dunes National Park.  What joy! Not far away, though, was the news of horror, death, and destruction as Hamas attacked southern Israel and fear fell on our weary world.

As we pray for peace and live and work in ways that reflect the “not yet” reality of the city to come, we hear the voices of that great multitude from all tribes and peoples and languages offering praise to our God and to the Lamb. “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 21:22)