I had just returned from our Spring Break service trip when I fired up my computer. I had been mostly offline, save for a few e-mails and seminary things, and now I was returning to the world. And when I chose to peruse YouTube for a minute just to relax; I saw it. The video I had been waiting for. The new Avengers: Infinity War trailer had dropped. And I lost the next half hour to it.
I spent the next few days watching response videos, combing the interwebs for easter eggs, trying to find any juicy details that had not yet been discovered. As a superhero movie fan, and an even bigger fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was hooked.
What came next was an odd thought: what if I die before it comes out? Or what if, for some reason, I don't get to see it? And then, came a prayer: “Lord, please let me see Infinity War before I die.”
Now, to be clear, I didn't verbalize this; I thought it. To the Lord. And then, I disregarded it for a while. But as we've been studying Exodus for a conference in May, I realized something about my prayer. I often live in two categories. Have a comfortable life, or an uncomfortable life. But there's a third life. A free life. One where I live in light of the fact that the shackles of death have been broken.
In Exodus 12, we see that God has conquered Pharaoh. He has plundered the Egyptians. And he has set the Israelites free. But there's one catch: they must leave in haste. No waiting. Just go. You're free to go and sacrifice to the Lord. Now go.
Of course, they go, only to encounter Pharaoh one last time, and again, God brings them to freedom. But how does that apply to us? We aren't enslaved to Pharaoh or Egypt. Is there anything we are enslaved to?
The answer should be simple: sin and death. Let's focus on the latter part of this, death. Now, this doesn't just mean death in the sense of when we die. It means we live in a fallen world. We live where all good things of God's creation have been corrupted. Suffering, oppression, racism, sickness, evil, it all exists here. And Heaven is where none of that will exist. In fact, in Revelation, God promises that He will wipe away every tear. So... wouldn't Heaven, where perfection will reign and we'll be face to face with the God who loves us, be better than anything this world has to offer?
Now...that's not to say Infinity War shouldn't be watched – I'll be honest, Lord willing, I'm going to see that movie at least twice in theaters. It's the movie event of my lifetime. And I'll enjoy it thoroughly... unless the Russo brothers, the film's directors, completely botch it. (I highly doubt it) But, if I never get to see it, will I ultimately miss out? If it's a choice between Infinity War, and Heaven, wouldn't the answer be obvious?
The point isn't that I necessarily have to choose between the two. Rather, the prayer reveals the heart. Most days, I don't think I value the promise of a life spent with Jesus face to face, without suffering, with eternal joy, more than other things. It shows in how often I make the choice to not share my faith, to not pray and spend time with God, and pray prayers like, “please don't take me before...” That's not to say we can't be excited for the events in our lives. Movies are fun. Sporting events are a blast. And beautiful things, like marriage, and the birth of a child, or a monumental birthday, are all great things that God lets us enjoy.
Let us cultivate a heart that longs even more for the great pleasures that are before God Almighty.