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Never

Never.

Never is a strong word, hard as stone, an all encompassing wall.

Sure, when used in the name “Neverland” or songs like “Never Say Never,” it transforms into a mirage, because “All things are possible!” and “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” for my inner strength can demolish any barrier! #YOLO

But on its own, it stands stalwart as steel.

Never.

This can be a promise, a word of hope, a hedge of protection.

“Never will I leave you or forsake you.”

“You’ll never walk alone.”

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

But Never is also a grim reminder of the limited reality in which we dwell.

I’ll never be able to change my past.

My dad will never again give me a piggy back ride.

I can never return to my childhood home, for the house is there, but my childhood has disappeared.

The Great Barrier Reef can never be restored to its former glory.

We can never undo the horrors of the Holocaust.

Poverty, slavery, racism, hate—these will never disappear from this sin-wrecked, pain- wrought planet.

And yes, I know that the promise of eternity erases—or at least eases—some of these Nevers.

God erases the sins of my past.  In Heaven, we’ll have new bodies—perhaps I’ll have another piggy back ride someday. The glory of childhood will endure forever in Heaven. There will be a new heavens and a new earth. Every tear will be washed away. All the darkness of death will disappear into glorious light.

And yet…

Like Roman ruins, some sections of Never will still remain.  Sure, our perspective will no doubt change. The stuff of earth will fade in the glory of heaven. But as a broken man on this broken earth, Never looms large.

I will never enter my grandparents’ home and see my grandfather sitting in his chair. I will never pet my dog Goldie again.  I will never be a camper at Camp Good News again. I will never walk on the rock walls of Stavanger with my best friend Paul.  

Some walls are made to never be crossed.  Even the power of the cross will not tear down those walls.  Because, in some way, they don’t matter. The Nevers of Earth will fade in the Evers and Always of Eternity.

But as I sit and think about all those Nevers that encircle my life here on this tiny rock encircling the Sun, I wish…

If only I could pet Goldie one more time.

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