Focus on the New Creation

The family has gathered. We ride the ups and down of sudden changes in breathing or consciousness. We share stories and pictures. We are waiting for Dad, my father-in-law Jim, to die.

At the ScreenAs I look out the back door to the lake, I am struck by the beauty of these summer days. The sun shines. The birds sing. The breeze breathes through the trees and hovers on the face of the waters.

If I change my focus, however, I mostly see dirty screen: metal mesh marked by greasy hand prints mingled with the remains of bugs that didn’t quite make it in, or out, as the case may be. The beauty of the creation is relegated to background noise when my focus is on the dirty screen.

I guess waiting for death feels a lot like that. In the near ground, so close it demands my attention, is the dirty reality of death. And it is ugly: labored breathing, rattling lungs, pale flesh, sallow cheeks. It would be easy to stay focused on what’s right in front of my face.

But change the focus just a little and the New Creation comes into view: the promise of life, real and eternal life, of days spent in the light, of the Spirit hovering over His people. In the moments I catch a glimpse of that promise, the present suffering stops taking center stage.

Don’t get me wrong, the pain of the present is still there. But like the screen door, it stops taking up my whole field of vision. I can see through the grimy reality of the fallen creation and focus more on the reality of the New Creation, the promise Dad will experience in full in the resurrection of the flesh.

Death is ugly. But it’s not the final word. Changing the focus helps me see that.

And one day—the promise is soon—the screen door will be ripped off of its track and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.

Soon, Dad will step into the light. And when the trumpet sounds, his body will rise, and the New Creation will be his only reality.

I can see that already now, when the focus is right, even though my present view is through the screen.

I, for one, can’t wait for the door to be opened once and for all.

Come quickly, Lord.

Through the Screen

About Justin Rossow

Justin writes and talks at the intersection of Scripture, culture, and metaphor theory. As founder of Next Step Press, he helps people delight in taking a next step following Jesus.

10 comments on “Focus on the New Creation

  1. Thank you for sharing this. The promise of the resurrection washes over the ugliness and once again makes the view clear and beautiful. Let us then fix our eyes on Jesus!
    May you and your family be lifted up, strengthened, and filled with peace.

  2. Inspiring words for a difficult time, Justin. I wonder if Paul pondered this same focus as he penned 1 Corinthians 12. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” It seems that our sinful condition is consistent over the years; to have dirty windows and focus on them instead of the glory beyond.

  3. Thank you, Justin. You expressed so effectively the Believers’ dying experience. Kimberly, Suzanne and I experienced this when Parke died, but did not put our thoughts and feelings into words. Jim and Joanie and family are in our thoughts and prayers tonight. With love, Beth Frederick

  4. I read this yesterday and as I contemplated the beautiful illustration throughout the day and evening, I’ve been seeing my own life from a very different perspective. This touched me to the core and I will never forget it–it makes all the “screen stuff” of the day seem quite inconsequential, so meaningless as not worthy to compare with what God has in store for us. It helped me to re-think my words and actions for today–to make it all count toward “the other side of the screen”. Thank you and thank God for sending you to be our pastor. We miss you so much when you’re not there on Sunday–your presence gives us a sense of wholeness. We are sincerely praying for your family.

  5. Well said, Justin. Praying for you all.

  6. Thank you, Justin, for that meditation. I have read and re-read it and am comforted by it. I lost my dad, a man of unwavering great faith, only a little over a year ago. As he drew his last breath, his eyes opened wide for the first time all day, and his face filled with wonder at what he saw. The screen was dropped and he saw what Jim will shortly see. What a gift to us, to watch his birth into eternity. I am praying for a similar gentle passage for Jim.
    Jim and Joan were my teachers at Lutheran East so many years ago. We watched them fall in love….

  7. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful message of comfort Justin. We have been praying for strength, peace, and a sense of calm during these last days…that you would be feeling God’s presence in a real and tangible way. Praise Him for that answer! Please give Joanie a hug for us, and one to Jim, letting them know how blessed we have been to know them and been allowed to see Jesus in both of their shining faces! They have both deeply touched so many hearts! With our love, Mike & Debbie Burns

  8. May God always give you eyes to see what is now just out of reach. Know that God IS within reach because He comes to us. I find that incredible!

  9. My wife, Evelyn, read that piece aloud to me. It’s wonderfully written and very powerful.
    Thank you.
    David Chaveriat

  10. Thanks, Justin, for putting what we believe about death into a metaphor that works powerfully for us. My elderly aunt died on Sunday. Focusing on God’s promises for her, for Jim and for all of us, is a great comfort.

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