When It All Comes Crashing Down
By David Faust
I visited a church in Alaska during late winter. Hard-packed ice covered the roads and two feet of snow covered the ground. The congregation had a pitch-in dinner following the worship service that Sunday. While the adults ate and talked, the children went outside to enjoy dogsled rides provided by a local musher. None of the adults participated, but I figured, What are the odds I will ever get another chance to ride on a dogsled? So, I swallowed my pride and got in line with the kids. When my turn came, I climbed onto the dogsled and laughed as the team of huskies whisked me around the church grounds.
Later that day, my host took me to see an ice-sculpting display. We walked around looking at statues carved from thick blocks of ice harvested from a nearby lake. The sculptures—several feet tall and skillfully carved—included a replica of the Statue of Liberty, a gigantic elephant, a crystal palace, and a child’s playground complete with a slide carved from the ice. I asked my host, “What happens to these sculptures when spring comes?” He shrugged and said, “They all just melt away.” It was sad to realize that after all the effort it took to craft those ice sculptures, they would simply melt to the ground with the spring thaw.
THE LAW OF ENTROPY
Isn’t that the way things are in this world? Eventually everything comes crashing down or slowly melts away. We admire the towering redwoods and other tall trees, but in time they will fall to the ground. We build elaborate houses, stadiums, office towers, and cathedrals, but will those structures still exist 500 years from now? The Pyramids in Egypt, the Colosseum in Rome, and the Parthenon in Greece still generate awe centuries after ancient artisans constructed them, but they are crumbling replicas of their former glory.
A basic principle in physics is the law of entropy or disintegration: things tend toward disorder and decay. To see the law of entropy at work, look at your own face in the mirror. Our bodies decline with age. Today’s glamorous stars of stage and screen will fade into insignificance, replaced by tomorrow’s trendy celebrities enjoying their 15 minutes of fame. Once-agile athletes succumb to arthritis and cancer. Once-brilliant minds drift into the sad fog of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Bible doesn’t whitewash all of this bad news. It tells us the unvarnished truth about sin’s devastating effects: physical pain, emotional sorrow, relational disruption, spiritual death. Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden. The fickle Jewish people saw their precious temple destroyed by the Babylonians.
THE HOPE OF ETERNITY
We must keep reading. And when we do, we discover that for the faithful, the story doesn’t end with devastation and despair. God’s story leads to redemption, reconciliation, and rebuilding. It climaxes in the final chapters of Revelation, where instead of entropy on a dying planet, there’s eternity on a new heaven and earth where a tree of life always bears fruit, and where there’s no more pain or tears, no more physical and mental decline, no more death.
Human achievements eventually melt to the ground, but God has in store for us “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). The bad news? “The world and its desires pass away.” The good news? “Whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).
Personal Challenge: Look over your calendar for the coming week. How many items on your to-do list will have lasting impact, and how many of them deal with temporary things that eventually will pass away?