All Things New is for readers who. . .
- wonder if the difficult things they go through matter;
- feel anxious about the future and their loved ones' futures;
- fear their dreams won’t come true; and
- want to understand what God has planned for their life.
This revolutionary book about our future is based on the simple idea that, according to the Bible, heaven is not our eternal homethe New Earth is. As Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew, the next chapter of our story begins with "the renewal of all things," by which he means the earth we love in all its beauty, our own selves, and the things that make for a rich life: music, art, food, laughter, and all that we hold dear. Everything shall be renewed "when the world is made new."
More than anything else, how you envision your future shapes your current experience. If you knew that God was going to restore your life and everything you love any day; if you believed a great and glorious goodness was coming to younot in a vague heaven but right here on this earthyou would have a hope to see you through anything, an anchor for your soul, "an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God" (Hebrews 6:19).
Most Christians (most people for that matter) fail to look forward to their future because their view of heaven is vague, religious, and frankly boring. Hope begins when we understand that for the believer nothing is lost. Heaven is not a life in the clouds; it is not endless harp-strumming or worship-singing. Rather, the life we long for, the paradise Adam and Eve knew, is precisely the life that is coming to us. And that life is coming soon.
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|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Is There a Hope That Really Overcomes All This?
It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to have hope.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Celebrating Life
The sunrise this morning was filled with such promise.
I was standing at the window in the early hours, praying, watching the dawn slowly bathe the hills in a golden light. The forest was utterly still, almost timeless. Each leaf was washed with a warm yellow glow, like candlelight; it covered the whole mountainside. Something about the bright, gentle beauty illuminating an entire forest made me feel that everything is going to be okay.
It is autumn now, and normally I'm not particularly happy about that. I don't usually like the coming of fall because I know the long winter will soon descend with more darkness than light. The world will go into gray tones for too long. But this year I'm relieved to see the leaves turning pumpkin colors, the grasses fading into brown — earth shedding her beauty as she goes into hibernation. Because I just want this year to be over.
January began with a suicide in our extended family; I was the one to receive the phone call. I had to find my middle son and tell him his wife's dear brother took his tormented life. Then the two of us had to find her and break the news that would break her heart. Those were awful days.
A reprieve from the grief seemed to come a few months later, when both my oldest son and his wife and my grieving son and daughter-in-law came over one evening to tell Stasi and me we were going to become grandparents. Not just once, but twice, at the same time — both couples were expecting. They had T-shirts made for us; the shared happiness was simply wonderful. We talked about the cousins growing up together, little cowboys running around Gramma and Poppy's house bringing joy and lightheartedness. Maybe happiness gets the final word.
Then our oldest and his beloved wife went through a horrible, brutal miscarriage. I buried my first grandson on the mountain behind our home. We stood as a family around the tiny grave while his devastated mother spoke these words: "Patrick, the day we learned we were pregnant with you was the best day of our lives. And the day we lost you was the worst." Watching my children grieve is the worst thing I've gone through as a father.
But then promise rose again a few months later, as our attention was mercifully turned to the wedding of our youngest son. I love weddings; I love the beauty, the romance, all the fairy-tale symbolism. I love wedding receptions. Theirs was held outdoors under the stars of a summer night, with hanging lights and laughter and dancing. It seemed to whisper again that all will be well. There is something winsome and enchanting in the best wedding parties, something that speaks to the deepest longing in our hearts. No one wanted to leave.
We were all enjoying the afterglow the next morning when my phone rang. Our dear friend Craig, whom we've known for almost forty years, was calling to tell us his cancer had taken a terrible turn. A month earlier he was almost in remission; now he would die within six weeks. I hung up and threw my cell phone as far as I could. This would be the second time in my life I would lose my dearest, closest friend.
And that is why I am fine with the coming of fall, and the passing of this year.
Can we just be honest? Life is brutal.
There is just enough goodness to rouse our hearts with expectation, and plenty enough sadness to cut us back down. When the cutting down exceeds the rising up, you wonder if you shouldn't just stay down. "I wept when I was borne," wrote the Anglican poet George Herbert, "and every day shewes why." Yes, life can also be beautiful. I am a lover of all the beautiful things in life. But may I point out that the movie by that name — Life Is Beautiful — takes place in a Nazi concentration camp. The story is precious in the way the father loves and protects his little boy from the ghoulish realities all around. But the father is killed at the end. Many, many people die horrible deaths at the end.
We need more than a silver-lining outlook on life. Much, much more. We need an unbreakable, unquenchable hope.
As I stood at the window for my morning vigil, the amber light of dawn was turning every fall color an even richer hue. It looked like something from a painting — transcendent, mythic. And for a moment it all felt brimming with promise. You've probably felt that promise too, as you stood in some favorite spot, watching the beauty of the rolling waves, marveling over spring flowers in the desert, walking the streets of Paris at night, sitting in your garden with a cup of coffee. Something keeps whispering to us through the beauty we love.
"Many things begin with seeing in this world of ours," wrote British artist Lilias Trotter. "There lies before us a beautiful, possible life."
I savor those moments; they are among my most treasured memories. But whatever it is that speaks such promise, it seems to slip through our fingers every time we reach for it. I know that simply wanting this year to be over isn't the answer because who really knows what next year will bring? "Each day has enough trouble of its own," said the most compassionate man ever.
What Are We Looking Forward To?
I keep checking my phone for e-mail and texts.
I do it all through the day; every alert gets my attention. I've been doing it for some time now. And the funny thing is, I'm not the kind of person who likes technology; I don't want to feel tied to my phone by an emotional umbilical cord. So what is this compulsion? What am I looking for? It's as though I'm looking for something.
And I'm not alone. People check their devices something like 110 times a day — one-third of their waking hours. What is this obsession? I know we get a dopamine buzz when we receive a text, but something else is going on here. After months and months of this obsession, I think I'm beginning to understand — the thing I keep looking for is good news. I am hoping for, looking for, longing for good news. We need to know that good is coming to us. We need to feel confident that a bright future is going to be given us and never taken away — not by anyone or anything.
I mentioned the global rise of depression and suicide; similar increases are happening with anxiety and various addictions. Our search for happiness is getting desperate. Have you noticed all the hatred and rage? If you spend any time on social media you have. Perhaps you saw the fallout after the Cincinnati Zoo incident; it was hard not to. In May 2016, a three-year-old boy fell through the rails into the enclosure of a male gorilla at the zoo; the gorilla grabbed the boy and violently threw him around. The dangerous-animal response team shot the gorilla and saved the boy's life. A social media Chernobyl followed — vicious, venomous backlash against the zoo and the boy's parents. Hundreds of thousands of people called for the boy's parents to be prosecuted. I understand strong emotion, but we are talking full-blown hatred here. And it doesn't take much to provoke it.
Shortly after the zoo tragedy, the remake of the film Ghostbusters was released, with an all-female cast. I don't even begin to understand the poisonous response. Leslie Jones, an African American actress starring in the film, was bombarded online with "a stream of pornography, racist speech and hateful memes." She was compared to the gorilla shot at the zoo; she received photos with human semen on her face. Over a movie?
Something is happening to the human heart. You need to understand what it is if you would make sense of any of this.
Human beings are by nature ravenous creatures; a famished craving haunts every one of us. We were created for utter happiness, joy, and life. But ever since we lost Eden, we have never known a day of total fullness; we are never filled in any lasting way. People are like cut flowers — we appear to be well, but we are severed from the vine. We are desperate, lustful creatures. We look to a marriage (or the hope of marriage), a child, our work, food, sex, alcohol, adventure, the next dinner out, the new car — anything to touch the ache inside us. We are ravenous beings.
And we have been untethered. Every institution that once provided psychological and moral stability is crumbling — families, communities, church allegiances. We don't trust anyone or anything anymore; not our universities nor financial institutions, not religious hierarchies, and certainly not our political leaders. The breakdown adds a kind of unchecked desperation to our ravenous hunger.
Then the world stands in the way of our famished craving; it constantly thwarts us. People don't treat us as we long to be treated; we can't find the happiness we need. Our boss is harsh, so we sabotage him. Our spouse withholds sex, so we indulge online. The ravening won't be stopped. But boy, oh boy — when somebody gets in the way of our desperate hunger, they feel the fury of our rage. We are ready to kill. People shoot each other over traffic incidents. Parents abuse a baby who keeps them up at night. We vengefully crucify one another in social media.
This is our current condition — ravenous, psychologically untethered, increasingly desperate, ready to harm anything that gets in our way. And there appears to be nothing to stop the slide into chaos. "The falcon cannot hear the falconer," warned the poet W. B. Yeats in "The Second Coming":
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
Whatever else is at play here, we have clearly lost hope. We have no confident expectation that goodness is coming to us. When my friend said, "We could sure use some hope right now," she may have prophesied the final word over the human race.
Looking for a Stronger Hope
Scripture names hope as one of the Three Great Forces of human existence:
Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)
By saying they last forever, God names these three as immortal powers. A life without faith has no meaning; a life without love isn't worth living; a life without hope is a dark cavern from which you cannot escape. These things aren't simply "virtues." Faith, hope, and love are mighty forces meant to carry your life forward, upward; they are your wings and the strength to use them.
I believe hope plays the critical role. You'll find it pretty hard to love when you've lost hope; hopelessness collapses into who cares? And what does it matter that we have faith if we have no hope? Faith is just a rigid doctrine with nothing to look forward to. Hope is the wind in your sails, the spring in your step. Hope is so essential to your being that Scripture calls it "an anchor for the soul" (Hebrews 6:19).
In an untethered world, we need a hope that can anchor us.
Those who are fighting cancer — or any physical affliction — will tell you that hope is essential if you would overcome. Abandon hope, and your body seems to give up the fight. Anyone who has walked the painful road of divorce knows that hope is the lifeline of a marriage; give up on hope and there is no reason to put in the hard work of staying together. People who lose hope are less likely to survive plane crashes and other survival scenarios. Hope is a determining factor in overcoming poverty. Hope literally heals the structures of your brain.
But to really grasp hope's beauty and power, you only need to think of what it is like to lose all hope whatsoever. I shudder; my moments of hopelessness are the darkest memories of my life. When we lose hope we wander too close to the shadowlands of hell, whose occupants "every hope resign," according to Dante. Hope is the sunlight of the soul; without it, our inner world walks about in shadows. But like a sunrise in the heart, hope sheds light over our view of everything else, casting all things in a new light. It wasn't merely sunlight bathing the mountain this morning — it was hope.
Faith is something that looks backward — we remember the ways God has come through for his people, and for us, and our belief is strengthened that he will come through again. Love is exercised in the present moment; we love in the "now." Hope is unique; hope looks forward, anticipating the good that is coming. Hope reaches into the future to take hold of something we do not yet have, may not yet even see. Strong hope seizes the future that is not yet; it is the confident expectation of goodness coming to us.
It might be helpful to pause and ask yourself, How is my hope these days? Where is my hope these days?
The Answer to the Riddle of the Promise
Optimism is not going to cut it. Trying to look on the bright side isn't going to sustain us through days like we are living in. Given how critical hope is to our lives, the most urgent question has to be, "Where is the hope that can overcome all the heartache of this world?"
"We all feel the riddle of the earth," wrote G. K. Chesterton. "The mystery of life is the plainest part of it. The clouds and curtains of darkness, the confounding vapours, these are the daily weather of this world." Thank you, Gilbert; I love it when someone says perfectly what we've always known to be true but never named for ourselves. I think the mystery boils down to this:
Some sort of promise seems to be woven into the tapestry of life. It comes to us through golden moments, through beauty that takes our breath away, through precious memories and the hope even a birthday or vacation can awaken. It comes especially through the earth itself.
That promise fits perfectly with the deepest longing of our hearts — the longing for life to come together as we somehow know it was always meant to. The whispers of this promise touch a wild hope deep within our hearts, a hope we hardly dare to name.
Does it ever come true?
That's the mystery; that is the riddle. So let's start right here. Perhaps we can pick up the trail from here.
Now, this may sound a little odd for a man to admit, but I feel a sort of compassion for Imelda's shoe fetish.
For those of you who missed the scandal back in the '80s, Imelda Marcos was married to Ferdinand, former president of the Philippines. They were ousted from power in '86 and fled the country, leaving behind a fascinating treasure: designer shoes. Thousands and thousands of them. Like so many fellow dictators, the Marcoses lived an extravagant lifestyle — bankrolled by the state, of course — while their people went about barefoot in the streets. Thus the ousting. Imelda was rumored to have a thing for shoes, but truth again proved stranger than fiction. Her personal collection contained from 1,060 to 7,500 pairs.
Think of it — acres and acres of gorgeous, dazzling shoes from the best salons in the world. If you wore then tossed a new pair every single day for ten years, you still couldn't wear them all.
What compels a person to obsessively hoard beauty they can never hope to see, let alone use in any meaningful way?
The media crucified Imelda, but I found the discovery fascinating. Fetishes are illuminating; they are a sort of peephole into the wild mystery of the human heart. We can hide our weirdness under a social disguise, we can maintain a good show, but our fetishes and fantasies blow our cover. The addict's ravenous hunger is there for all the world to see. Honestly — I felt a kind of empathy for Imelda, though I wouldn't go public with it till now. I think she was looking for the Ruby Slippers; she was looking for Somewhere Over the Rainbow. (This isn't so strange: after all, one shoe changed Cinderella's life.)
Imelda Marcos was looking for the kingdom of God.
I'll let you in on a little secret: your heart is made for the kingdom of God. This might be the most important thing anyone will ever tell you about yourself: your heart only thrives in one habitat, and that safe place is called the kingdom of God. Stay with me now.
The Renewal of All Things
Jesus Christ gave his life to give each of us a hope above and beyond all former hopes. Every action and teaching of his brilliant life were very intentionally directed at unveiling this hope to us. Late in the gospel of Matthew he described it with breathtaking clarity:
"Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne ... everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." (19:28–29)
At the renewal of all things?! God's intention for us is the renewal of all things? This is what the Son of God said; that is how he plainly described it. I can hardly speak. Really?
Excerpted from "All Things New"
Copyright © 2017 John Eldredge.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Breathtaking Promise, ix,
Chapter 1 Is There a Hope That Really Overcomes All This?, 1,
Chapter 2 The Renewal of All Things, 19,
Chapter 3 Let Us Be Honest, 41,
Chapter 4 The New Earth, 61,
Chapter 5 Our Restoration, 83,
Chapter 6 When Every Story Is Told Rightly, 105,
Chapter 7 The Overthrow of Evil, 129,
Chapter 8 What Do We Actually Do?, 151,
Chapter 9 The Marriage of Heaven and Earth, 173,
Chapter 10 Grab Hold with Both Hands, 195,
About the Author, 215,