Life and Death in a Turkey Barn
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore . . . and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:16-17
Two days a week, on my way to work, I drive by a few turkey barns. With the outdoor temperature slowly creeping up, the barn windows have been propped open so that I can see hundreds of turkey heads sticking up. Now I love eating turkey and I’m certainly not protesting turkey farming. Whenever I see those hundreds of turkeys crammed in a barn though, I think, What a miserable existence. They’re born in the barn. They live their entire lives in the confines of the barn. Then they die in the barn and get eaten. There’s nothing else. It’s my understanding that turkeys have no soul and thus, there’s no turkey paradise in the afterlife because for a turkey, this bleak existence is all there is. For turkeys, there’s no hope for a better future.
As Christians though, this is not what we believe about ourselves. Created in God’s image, we have a soul which transcends this world and so, we will believe we’ll experience an eternity in the afterlife. In today’s passage, we’re told that one day, God will make everything right. Whether all wrongs are undone, or whether we just won’t remember, I don’t understand. We are promised though, that one day, our existence will be free from hunger, sickness, sorrow, and pain. One day, everything wrong will be made right.
This requires a lot of faith to accept. It takes a lot of faith to live my life differently now, hoping that one day, in an afterlife that I can’t see, God will fix everything. That’s the definition of faith though – to live for something here, that I can’t yet see, touch, or directly experience. As Christians, we don’t despair like the turkeys because we know this bleak existence isn’t all there is. We believe in the afterlife, and we believe that if we follow God, we will one day be rewarded for that.
I’ll insist however, that as a follower of Christ, I don’t have to wait until the afterlife for a reward. I’ll insist that faith dramatically improves my life here and now. If this world was all there is, then it would make sense to live however I wanted. I’ve lived according to my natural appetite though and it’s brought me nothing but misery. It’s only in abandoning my will for God’s – living by faith – that I’ve come to experience life, joy, and peace. I do believe in heaven, but I don’t have to wait until then to know happiness. In faith, I can experience authentic joy here and now, despite life’s sometimes bleak circumstances.