Tag Archives: heaven

almost heaven

backlit-clouds-dawn-162568

“Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue ridge mountains, Shenandoah river…” And now most of you will have John Denver stuck in your head for the rest of the day. My apologies to my West Virginian friends, but I’ve never really thought of West Virginia as being “almost heaven”. For that matter, I have never thought about Odessa, TX or Flint, MI, or even Chattanooga, TN as being almost heaven either. Well at least not geographically. However, when I stop to think about some of my encounters in each of these places, I begin to see heaven breaking through a little bit. Bob Benson wrote a poem called Looking for the Threads that I think catches what I’m trying to say:

I used to think,
loving life so greatly,
that to die would be like
leaving the party before the end.

But now I know
that the party is really happening
somewhere else.
That the light and the music
escaping in snatches,
to make the pulse beat faster
and the tempo quicken,
comes from another place.

And I know, too,
that when I get there,
the music and the love and the praise
will belong to him
and the music will never end.

Maybe that’s the almost heaven part? The “light and the music escaping in snatches”. I like the way the writer of Revelation put’s it in his final description, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’.” – Revelation 21:1, 3-4. That new heaven and new earth part sounds pretty awesome. Because I think what limits our scope of heaven and seeing the “light and the music escaping in snatches” is because we are encumbered by time, death, distance, sickness, etc.

Maybe we’ve all experienced the “almost heaven” part, but our vision is limited by those things that will soon pass away. Maybe my visions of heaven in Odessa, TX will come to fruition in the new heaven and earth. I can see me spending a large part of eternity sitting around with Kenny Mayes and just talking about the goodness of God (and hopefully it will feel and smell a bit like his shop). Maybe my vision of heaven in Flint, MI won’t be hampered by the cold and the snow and some of the brokenness that has come to falsely label this great city. I can see myself spending a good part of eternity walking in the fresh grass with Sam Owens just laughing about how grace welcomed us both in. Maybe even the visions of heaven I’ve had from the town I grew up in will fully blossom as one day I find myself fishing with my grandfathers  Raymond Arp and Garland Patterson (who I never got to meet) and us just enjoying being fully in the presence of each other and God.

I’ve never really enjoyed moving away from a place…and it has nothing to do with the geography or the restaurants or the sights or the entertainment venues or any of that stuff. That’s not what defines life for me. But the people who have shaped and changed mine and my family’s life are for me the part that is almost heaven. And much like that same song, they are the path that will help to, “take me home to the place I belong.” This life is short, but I’m beginning to see how beautiful heaven will be through all the folks who have been Jesus to me.

Advertisements

heaven

Heaven. What a buzz word to bring up! And I promise I am not going fishing for more blog readership….although that would be nice. But I have honestly been thinking a lot about heaven lately and can’t think of a better way to get my thoughts out than to place them online before the entire world…

Over the years of Christendom there has been a lot said about heaven. Even today we have books, movies, TV shows (don’t act like you don’t remember 7th Heaven) and more all about heaven or our humanly perception of it. We are insanely curious about what’s on the other side. We hear stories about people having near death experiences or being dead for a few short moments and then marvel at their stories about what they have seen and experienced. But the fact remains that there is no such thing as certainty about what may await us on the other side of this life. And I think that’s okay. We are after all people of faith.

I have been having some conversations with someone recently who may* be closer to heaven than a few of us and we have been contemplating what it may be like. Their hope resides in the fact that at the moment they meet Jesus that they will turn around and all of their loved ones will be there as well. As God exists outside of our definition of time it will seem as if time does not exist and their earthly familial legacy will be joining them instantaneously with Jesus. I for one love this picture. But I think the reason that I love this picture so much is because of the Biblical hope it contains. A lot of our hope for heaven comes from prophetic hope contained within the Bible. You have the hope of Isaiah and Micah of the mountain of God where ‘swords are beat into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks’. You have Jesus’ promise contained in wedding vows in John 14 when he says, ‘I go to prepare a place for you’. But I think one of the more powerful images of heavenly hope is found in Revelation 21. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…I am making everything new!”

Here is why this comprises all of my heavenly hope. God fixes the broken things. I don’t really care where heaven is or what it looks like or if I get a mansion or to eat all the chocolate I want and never get fat. I just want God to fix the broken things. I want the things like cancer, abuse, abandonment, genocide, disease, slavery, oppression, war to be redeemed, fixed, restored…and if that is all heaven is it will be enough. Because if the broken things are fixed and we are with Jesus…then I know it will be Heaven.

 

* Contained within this “may” are countless prayers for healing and hope for a miracle.


%d bloggers like this: