WHAT WE’VE BEEN USED TO

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

If you’ve ever heard me talk in depth about some of the books I really take delight in reading, the Anne of Green Gables series will have no doubt been in the list.

At the beginning of this year, I was determined to be extremely organized when it came to my choices in literature and read only three books a month. This was brought about from an overwhelming previous year where I had nearly twenty books going all at the same time. However, though we are only just coming to July, that three-book-a-month schedule has been figuratively tossed right out the window.

I’ve had a keen desire to re-read the Anne of Green Gables series and began Anne of the Island again a few weeks ago. This is one of my favorites in the series because it’s the book where Anne embarks on the new adventures of college, falling in love, and learning to live on her own outside of the small community of Avonlea.

However, when she comes back home from college to visit everyone in Avonlea, she discovers one of the girls she had gone to grade-school with, Ruby Gillis, is actively, yet slowly, dying.

Ruby Gillis constantly belittled Anne in their childhood and was an overall sour person. However, Anne, of course, feels Ruby’s ailment very deeply herself, and mourns over the fact that one of the people who was present in many of her childhood memories would be the first to pass away. Ruby requests Anne’s presence often, knowing she isn’t like the other flippant and immature girls their age, and she can have a real and deep conversation with her.

Until this point, none of Ruby’s family had seemed to accept the fact that she was dying, and Ruby herself seemed to have no idea. But one night, as she and Anne are sitting together out in her garden, she finally admits that she is terrified of her inevitable fate and confides some feelings which she has never voiced before. Now, I want you to really absorb this exchange with me. Anne says,

“Why should you be afraid of dying, Ruby?” Anne asked quietly.

“Because – because – oh, I’m not afraid but that I’ll go to heaven, Anne. I’m a church member. But – it’ll all be so different. I think – and think – and I get so frightened – and – and homesick. Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so – but, Anne, it won’t be what I’ve been used to.”

Through Anne’s mind floated an intrusive recollection of a funny story she’d heard Phillipa Gordon tell – the story of some old man who had said very much the same thing about the world to come. It had sounded funny then – she remembered how she and Priscilla had laughed over it. But it did not seem in the least humorous now, coming from Ruby’s pale, trembling lips. It was sad, tragic – and true!

Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to. There had been nothing to her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or make the life to come seem anything but alien and unreal and undesirable. Anne wondered helplessly what she could say that would help her. Could she say anything?

“I think, Ruby,” she began hesitatingly… “I think, perhaps, we have very mistaken ideas about heaven – what it is and what it holds for us. I don’t think it can be so very different from life here as most people seem to think. I believe we’ll just go on living, a good deal as we live here – and be ourselves just the same – only it will be easier to be good and to – follow the Highest. All the hinderances and perplexities will be taken away, and we shall see clearly. Don’t be afraid, Ruby.”

This particular passage had never really stuck out to me in the past, but as you know from my last blog post, death has been particularly prevalent in my mind, making this scene jump out of the pages at me.

How true is it that many of us should be able to relate with Ruby, in that Heaven seems to us such an alien place? A place that takes us away from our earthly home we have grown so attached to, and the people we have come to love in it.

I do believe Anne’s thoughts ring with truth though, as she says that there had been nothing in Ruby’s flighty, frivolous life to prepare her for the world to come. Yet how sad is it that this disconcerting thought is held by many churchgoers today, who have not been taught to live in light of Eternity?

This is the entire concept Lilly and I have been talking about for over four years now. Literally bringing small bits of heaven to our lives here on earth through living the way Jesus specifically intended us to live.

As Ruby said, heaven will not be what we’re used to.

It will be a place where we go to be restored to complete perfection and wholeness, and where most of the things we care about and with which we consume our earthly lives will no longer hold even a microscopic drop of importance.

Let that sink in for a minute.

What we’re used to is working our nine-to-fives, wasting three hours of our lives screaming at a TV and sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for our lives to come crashing down if our favorite sports team doesn’t win their game. What we’re used to is going to school and only half-heartedly paying attention to what we’re taught, hoping to slip through by the skin of our teeth with a high enough GPA to graduate. Simply to go on and lead the same boring lives others have led for hundreds of years before us. What we’re used to is going through the drive-thru, throwing a tantrum, and cussing out the person serving us because they messed up our order.

That really glorifies Jesus, doesn’t it? I’m sure that’ll be included in our packaged experience of heaven.

What we’re used to is wasting every single day of our lives going through the same monotonous motions we’ve gone through for the last ten years, and not batting an eyelash when an actual opportunity to glorify Jesus comes our way.

“When you cry out, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry them all off, a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in Me shall possess the land and shall inherit My holy mountain.” (Isaiah 57:13 ESV)

There has been only one time in my life where someone has managed to make Heaven sound boring, and I believe that was because he was entirely too focused on the things that gave him pleasure, and happiness, and so-called joy here on earth. 

He said, “You know, many of us imagine heaven as a place where we’ll run around on the streets of gold, do whatever we want, and be immortal. But really, all we get to do while we’re there is sit in front of God and worship Him, singing the same phrase over and over and over again.”

His tone was filled with such flippancy, and even a hint of dread, I could barely keep my mouth from falling open.

You see, when we get so caught up in the things of earth, that does sound boring. It makes you think, “If that’s all I get to do in heaven then Sia Nora, Hasta La vista, and peace out.”

But when we finally get our heads wrapped around the fact that when we live in light of Eternity, we realize that without this incredible, perfect God we serve, we could not sustain ourselves. He is our very life-source, the very breath in our lungs, and thump of our pulse.

What else would we want to do but worship?!? Worship is not all we can do; it is the very most we are capable of.

This week, I challenge you to not be like Ruby Gillis. Don’t chase after trivial, unimportant, and wind carried tasks and attitudes until you are faced with death. Live in a way that reflects Jesus in everything you do, and in a way that brings a little slice of heaven down here to earth.

Put your life in God’s hands, be an active participant in what He wants you to do in your home, family, school, workplace, and then sit back and enjoy the show. I promise you; it’ll be a good one.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you been chasing trivial, unimportant tasks this week?

= What are you going to do differently?