John writes, "And the kings of the earth,
who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her,
will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning.
They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
“Alas! Alas! You great city,
you mighty city, Babylon!
For in a single hour your judgment has come.”
The line 'lived in luxury' hurt my head rather as I was waiting for the sun to turn the black night at least to gray. We're probably going to get snow, eventually, sometime. A judgment on all my ungodliness. But I'm sitting here in a bed made up with elcheepo Egyptian Cotten, warmed by a dog who has no purpose other than to accompany and heat my every sitting place, adored by a husband who places a tray with a teapot and only one of three cups lest I tantrum about setting my delicate lips to a china too thick, or a shape that doesn't fit well in the hand, about to put my feet into fuzzy slippers and shuffle across a floor that is the color and kind I felt I required, then to turn on the lights of a vast green fir tree whose scent has transformed the foul decay of the basement wafting up through the vents to be as though we actually live in heaven. Or, to put it another way. I am in so much luxury. I am so comfortable.
I can just see myself, clad in the latest of the day, my eyelids and lips painted with the season's color, my graspy fingers clinging to my crystal vase of carefully arranged evergreen and berries, standing afar off,
"weeping and mourning aloud,
'Alas, alas, for the great city
that was clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet,
adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!
For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.”
I am inclined, like Job, to always be explaining to God how it is good and right and fair that so much wealth should properly belong to me. To justify myself and my "suffering" in his eyes. But justification is wrong, and so also is guilt, if it's the wrong kind. God gives us good and beautiful and lovely things. If we wait for him, in his own time, he gives us goodness and beauty and kindness and humility and sometimes a goose at Christmas. I just never want to wait for it. I never want it to be a free gift from him. I'd like to deserve it so that there's no reasonable way he can take it all away at his good will and pleasure. So I wind myself up into a froth of guilt (I have so much! I don't deserve any of it!) and self justification (My life is such a trial! I must treat myself in order to make it through the day! I'll just have this extra cupcake because I deserve it!). The fact is, at the end, it is all going to go up in a ball of fire. The intentions and state of every heart will be visible and plain. The extent to which I made my own way and grabbed my own stuff and walked all over the feelings of others is going to be clear to me the way it is already clear to God. It behooves me to hold it all with an open hand now so that my weeping is consolable later. The Lord gives and The Lord takes away. He's giving and giving and I'm so blessed. Even if he doesn't take away until I breathe my last, he will give more than I can possibly imagine when the smoke of the fire is cleared away and everyone is fresh and clean and new again.
There's the snow, now, covering all the brown and gray, hiding the ugliness for a while. What a blessing.