In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we read these words: “As it is written, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’.” Paul is quoting Isaiah 64:4. The closing chapters of Isaiah speak to what Yahweh will do in the end times. It contains words of judgment as well as words of hope.
Paul is discussing the wisdom and power of God – things hidden to the worldlings. But believers will often apply this text to the next life, and all the glories that will be found there. The wonder and beauties of the new heavens and the new earth will be incredible indeed.
This is such comforting and heartening news for all believers, myself included. For example, when I read about “what eye has not seen” I get especially interested. You see, all my life I have had bad eyesight. I am even partially colour-blind. And my eyesight seems to be deteriorating quite a bit of late.
If things continue, my work as a writer may have to be reduced, or even come to an end. I know my many enemies will relish the thought, but in one way it does not bother me too much. If I am left with nothing else to do in Christian ministry but engage in heaps of prayer, intercession and spiritual warfare, I may in fact accomplish far more for Christ and the Kingdom than what I am now doing.
So I often wonder what it would be like to have perfect eyesight – even with glasses my vision is rather poor. And in the life to come vision may be even better than 20/20 anyway. Everything will likely be magnified and amplified and so much better.
Music will sound so much more beautiful; what we see will be so much more glorious; what we experience will be so much greater. In every way everything will be so wondrously improved. We simply cannot imagine what things will be like. And all our great efforts and talents and gifts and abilities here on earth will seem so limited and puny then.
The Olympics are now on and there we see the epitome of human endurance, athletic ability and awesome prowess. But with our new resurrection bodies we may all be able to run faster than Usain Bolt, or swim more elegantly and swiftly than Michael Phelps.
It will just be absolutely incredible. It should excite every single believer. And we know this from at least two sources. One of course is Scripture itself, and all the wonderful promises we find there. But the other is something that has long intrigued me and moved me.
I refer to a little-understood and often little-known condition known as Savant syndrome. This is where in rare cases certain individuals seem to have supra-human and supra-normal capabilities and talents. And the really incredible thing about this is that this rare group of people who have extraordinary abilities in mathematics, art, music or calculation are often severely disabled.
The French term idiot savant means learned idiot, and was first used to refer to people with Down syndrome and the like. While I don’t usually rely on Wikipedia, let me offer a few lines from their article on this:
“Savantism is a rare condition in which people with developmental delays of the brain (notably autism spectrum), and/or brain injury, demonstrate profound and prodigious capacities and/or abilities far in excess of what would be considered normal.
“According to Darold Treffert, the leading researcher in the study of savant syndrome, almost all savants have prodigious memory of a special type, which he describes as ‘very deep, but exceedingly narrow’. It is wide in the sense that they can have an exceptional memory but have a hard time putting it to use. Certain savants have also been shown to display advanced skill in one or more of five major areas: Art, musical abilities, calendar calculating, mathematics and spatial skills. Most savants display social deficiencies, generally consistent with an Autism spectrum disorder, although symptoms can recede over time.”
For example, such people can hear a very complicated piece of music for the very first and only time, and reproduce it note-perfect on a piano or other instrument. It is an extraordinary ability lacking in us mere mortals. See here for a video example of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWtZA-ZmOAM&feature=related
Or they can have incredible artistic abilities, being able to make perfect replicas of various things. See this savant syndrome man producing incredible sculptures without any training or practice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkDMaJ-wZmQ
Or consider this autistic young man who can see a cityscape for a matter of minutes, and then faithfully reproduce it in mammoth sketches: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1223790/Autistic-artist-draws-18ft-picture-New-York-skyline-memory.html
Looking at these videos and pictures is the best way to capture what is going on here. Science and medicine do not seem to know much about this condition or why it comes about. But it seems every single believer should be absolutely excited and rapt about this.
These rare and remarkable abilities seem to be glimpses or foretastes of heaven. They seem to be snippets of what life was meant to be like before the fall, or what it will be like when Christ returns. It is so incredibly remarkable and wonderful. Indeed, the best thing it does is give us glimpses of the wonderful and amazing God we serve.
Out of absolutely nothing our wonderful creative God created the universe and everything in it. The majestic mountains, the beautiful sunsets, the amazing aroma of flowers, the glorious sounds of music – all this from the beautiful and creative God we serve.
While we have so much beauty and wonder now in our ordinary lives, the extra bits of wonder and glory displayed in those with Savant syndrome point to something even more wonderful and glorious. They point us to God and his wondrous creative abilities.
Such beauties and wonders can only result in us creatures giving God all our praise and worship and thanksgiving. Christians of all people can exalt in this and celebrate this. Secularists and atheists are much more restricted it seems in this area.
To illustrate, and in closing, let these three comments by G. K. Chesterton make my case:
“The gift without the giver is bare.”
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
“The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.”
(And please remember to look at the three links above!)