… to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, …
Many of my friends know the family story. It’s very Downton Abbey. My Great Grandfather was the youngest son of The Earl of Powis, whose castle is pictured above. His maid was Elizabeth Worrall and they had an affair. His older brother died in WWI and in WWII the only remaining heir, my Great Grandfather died serving in the RAF (http://www.aircrewremembered.com/raf1943/2/herbertmervyn.html) . There are no records of any legitimate male children, and so the castle passed into the hands of the National Trust and the Title went to the Earl of Plymouth, ironically (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mervyn_Herbert,_Viscount_Clive) . My Grandfather was raised in an orphanage and my father claimed to be his oldest son (there is another family story that leaves a slight question mark here). I am the only son of my father. So, if illegitimate children can make claims on inheritance, I am the heir of Powis Castle (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle/ ).
The whole thing is quite fanciful. It might make a nice yarn at dinner parties. If this earth was all I could ever expect, it might be worth finding out (I did try and find if there were records at the local British libraries of my Great Grandma’s employ), but I have enough. I have a wife who cares for me, I have two beautiful children who laugh and play with me, I have a house that has more rooms than we can efficiently use, I love my job … Yet all these things are nothing.
Castles become ruined, clothing gets soiled, curtains fade. Cars rust, bodies wear out, and a winning season is forgotten after a year. The world’s quest for gain is fruitless, pointless. Some philosophers point at the absurdity of making meaning of life since they assume that death is the end. However, Peter points us beyond the physical realm for our true hope. Jesus has purchased our redemption. We are heirs of a kingdom as yet unrealised. We receive part of our inheritance as God lifts the veil and shows us the spiritual nature of being in time. However, the glory of being in eternity is beyond our comprehension. We have pictures of heaven in the book of Revelation. It’s not a whitewashed cloud of boredom and harps. No-one becomes an angel or looks down upon us from above. Those who dwell with God forever dwell in a second creation that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. Flowers don’t fade under the smog of industry, mountains aren’t decapitated for profit, and politicians and financiers don’t steal wealth to satiate their greed. Maybe something like that might be permitted in hell, but not in heaven.
All the greed that occurs around the death bed of a rich man is irrelevant to me. I have an inheritance that is mine upon death. Contrary to most inheritance we think of, this inheritance goes to the one who dies. Death is a right of passage which gives me the full measure of what I experience in part now. This lightens the burden of life and allows us to weather the storms of life unafraid of death. Death opens up possibilities, it does not close them down. J.M. Barrie puts hopeful words into the mouth of Peter Pan, ” To die would be an awfully big adventure.” For those who walk with Jesus, this kind of optimism is justified, as we discover immeasurable treasures the likes of which are beyond our dreams.
Can an Earldom pass to an illegitimate male heir? Can a castle be taken back after being bequeathed by the dying Earl? Probably not. However, these responsibilities are not the concerns you have given me. We have been given as much as we need for the work we must do. You are our inheritance and you are eternally enough. Our experience now is limited. As the limits are pushed back by our death, help our fears for the future and of death to be lessened?
- What things are ours that are imperishable?
- What do we have that can not be defiled?
- What will we inherit that can not fade?
- What things do you own that have perished, been defiled, or faded?
- How does realising your identity as heir empower you to live?