The Dog-Days of Summer
Aug. 28, 2013
1 King 8:27
While at Devil’s Lake State Park on a very warm summer afternoon, Rick and I drove by this picnic table. Notice the puppy in the inner tube? She caused us to both laugh. I know it is a she because I overheard her owner’s family call her Lucy.
These are the dog days of summer. People are getting in one last event, trip or fun activity before school starts. We were doing the same while at the lake. As we ate a picnic lunch nearby table, we watched Lucy. I suggested to Rick that she has the life he would love to have. His reply, “What do you mean? I have her life.”
When I was in seminary, I discovered an interesting theological term: realized eschatology. Eschatology is the study of the end times; what might happen with Christ’s return to earth, as proclaimed in the New Testament. While thousands of people have tried to predict and describe this, so far these people have failed miserably.
“Realized” changes the meaning. We do not have to wait until Christ’s return to experience some of heaven now. We can begin to experience God, God’s presence and the reward of being a Christian NOW while living on earth. Realized eschatology says we begin to feel and experience God’s rewards in the here and now, not just in the future.
At the time, this concept was a breath of air for Rick. It was shortly after Rick’s oldest son was killed in an accident. The days were challenging and sad. When I explained realized eschatology, Rick’s attitude changed. He could either live disappointed with his son’s death. Or he could look for opportunities to see God’s grace and presence in his daily life. He could experience God’s reward for him partially now. While Nate has experienced the fullness of God’s reward in death, Rick and the rest of us have the opportunity to experience some of God’s rewards now.
Too often, people choose not to see God’s reward now. They are disappointed and think the glass is half empty. Half glass full people experience God’s kingdom now.
In this sense, Rick has Lucy’s life. We choose whether we are content with our position and stage of life or if we allow frustrations to be more important. We determine if events are going to overwhelm us before they happen. Our perspective on life, God and the interaction between the two determines whether we experience a little bit of heaven while still on earth.
Rick loves summer. He loves the hot. For him, it is a good day when sweat rolls off of his nose when he is doing nothing. This is a little bit of heaven on earth. For Lucy, it seemed to be sitting in the inner tube. She wasn’t disappointed her new family is off doing some activity while she is tied to the picnic table. She is so excited to be at the lake feeling the breeze. These are her dog days of summer. What is yours? How do you experience realized eschatology?
Lord God – Too often we miss seeing the rewards of your kingdom in our daily lives. We tend to focus on what we do not have rather than the goodness before us daily. Remind us anew of the great promise of your kingdom. May we experience this today. Amen.
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