As a kid Popeye was one of my favorite cartoon characters. I identified and celebrated in many ways his saying: "I am what I am, and that is all I am!” That slogan most certainly continues today, almost to a fault.
Now we just finished celebrating Easter with its promise of eternity for all those who believe. For me, the day is pretty special. But with that in mind I come to this question, and I can’t escape it: what will happen at the Resurrection with me? And if all goes as to plan…what will I be like?
First of all I am a Christian, and while that may mean many things to those who read this entry, let me state how I define this identifier: it is but a work in progress. I was baptized when I was 8 years old with my adopted parents who only lived 2 years after that event. By no means in the years since have I achieved perfection as many may think that title Christian represents. There is no way I am perfect, ever was, or on earth will ever be. The closest to that title (if any) that can be applied to me is “forgiven”.
That being said, what about my disabilities that today define me? And unfortunately, they are many. One which is quite evident and has no need for me to work hard to show anyone is my hearing. I have what is called severe hearing loss and as a result bilateral cochlear implants. I started going deaf when I was a young man, those little hairs in my cochlea never regenerated themselves, they are a lot like fingernails and nose hairs. Normally they are suppose to just keep growing. At age 17 I had a severe pulmonary illness and I was pumped full of antibiotics that eventually led to the destruction of my cochlea, today these antibiotics are not used for this very reason in the quantity that was given me.
However, who’s really to blame? The docs and nurses had one thing in mind: keep me alive, and I am forever grateful to them for that.
So now I have these things that look like machinery hanging on my ears, and stuck by magnets to my skull. I am bionic.
So my question is, will I have these for my resurrected body? Now perhaps you might think this is a crazy question, but hey, I am deaf now. I am what I am!
When the implant wires were stuck into my cochlea there is no return -- nada, zip. While someone could say my body will be perfected, that would not be who I am right now. I don’t believe we will be remade, but I do believe we will be glorified, that is Biblical.
So, will I be deaf in heaven? Perhaps the question for some is really not important, but it is for me.
Recently I read a comment by a woman (do not personally know her but found her on the internet) regarding resurrection transformation and here it is (Lucy Crabtree):
"I’m a Christian with a disability (hearing loss), and my church had a class last year on developing a theology of disability. Disability and the resurrection were hot topics, and much of what you say here was discussed in our class. Being hard of hearing has shaped how I think, how I act, what I read, what I enjoy, how I relate to people (or not), and vice-versa. It has been the source of great pain and also great (sanctifying) joy. I have to say, though, that the idea of still being hard of hearing in heaven does not thrill my soul. This bothered me for a while, until I realized that I was basing the question of whether I would hear in Heaven or not on the assumption that being hard of hearing was my whole identity. As Christians, we are in Christ, and our identity is in Christ. Will we have our “disabilities” in heaven? Perhaps, perhaps not. But the joy of finally seeing Jesus is not that we get to be a better version of our earthly selves, but that we shall be like *him* (1 John 3:2). The cost of following Jesus is self-forgetfulness, so it’s hard for me to imagine being terribly concerned, in Heaven, whether I am hard of hearing or not. I will be with Jesus! I will be like him! That is joy."
Now this lady has it right in my mind.
So I journey on today, with a confidence that who I am will be who I am tomorrow…and perhaps eternity; joyfully, and content.
You know, the song writer really nailed it when he wrote (Charles H. Gabriel):
When, by the gift of His infinite grace,
I am accorded in heaven a place,
Just to be there and to look on His face,
Will through the ages be glory for me.
Oh, that will be glory for me,
Glory for me, glory for me,
When by His grace I shall look on His face,
That will be glory, be glory for me.
Yes, glory for me…by resurrected grace.