On June 4, 2016 I had the honor of saying “I do” to Anna Christine Ovenell. No longer a widower, I have the tremendous privilege and responsibility of loving Anna as Christ loved the church (Cf., Ephesians 5:25). My marriage to Anna is a merciful example of how God is making all things new, now and forever.
Since our wedding day we’ve had the opportunity to travel to the states of Maine, Washington, and Montana. It’s been a “wedding tour” of sorts with family and friends in each location sharing our joy. One of my favorite spots along the way was Bozeman, Montana. Few places in the world, I imagine, can boast such natural beauty. The Gallatin Valley hosts some of the most majestic rivers and lakes. The lush wheat fields blanket the countryside with amber waves of color. The mountains in the distance stand as a fortress keeping watch day and night. And every time I gazed above at the vast expanse I thought to myself, “I see why they call this Big Sky country.”
In a word, Montana is breathtaking.
But as beautiful as Montana is I couldn’t help but think about how even Montana is “groaning” under the curse of sin. The Apostle Paul says as much in Romans 8:18-22:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Along with the rest of creation, Montana longs to be “set free from its bondage to corruption.” Indeed, Bozeman is the wrong city. We seek the city that is to come (Cf., Hebrews 13:14).
The Christian is on a pilgrimage to the City of God, the City the Apostle John had in view when he wrote Revelation 21:1-4:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
We know where this whole thing is headed: the glorious City of God where every tear is wiped away; no more mourning, crying, or pain; death swallowed up in victory; uninterrupted communion with God in fullness of joy forever (Cf., Psalm 16:11).
Therefore, we must view ourselves as sojourners in this life; pilgrims unwaveringly moving toward the heavenly city where our true and lasting citizenship resides. Like “Little Christian” in the wonderful rendition of Pilgrim’s Progress I love to read to Michael, we will not be deterred in our pursuit of the City of God. We must be with our King because this world is not our home.
I love the picture above of Montana horses running with such apparent freedom and determination. I want to run like that toward my heavenly home. And by God’s grace I have a new running partner. My bride was born in Bozeman; Anna is a Montana girl. And so together we’re running to stand still in the presence of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious end of our pursuit.
[Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff.]