Monday, October 12, 2015

Moving Through Heaven: Anticipations

A couple of weeks ago I invited 21 of my friends from across the country to join me (and each other) in more purposeful dialogue, accountability, and intellectual stimulation.  That project is reading (or re-reading) Randy Alcorn’s monumental book, Heaven.  We’re taking it one section a week (25-40 pages or so) with a view to finishing the book by Christmas.  As part of the conversation, I’m occasionally posting observations and prayer items here on the blog like the one I print below.  Those friends involved in the partnership can respond to my notes and/or write up their own via email, phone, and posts on their own blog or a Facebook page. (Maybe you’d like to join us?)

Here’s one of the most moving of those responses. It comes from Jim Bingham.

I've thought long and hard about my level of anticipation of heaven since reading this first section. 

Some of the things I look forward to in the New Heaven and New Earth are: Never running out of time to finish a project. Endless discoveries of the endless never-diminishing delights He sets before us, because in His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. I look forward to being free from all stress, regret, anxiety and fear. 

But those aren't my highest motivators when I think about heaven. My motivators are the pure levels of fellowship to be shared there eternally with Christ and with Christ-like brothers and sisters. No mixed motives. No mixed messages. No tentative or uncomfortable relationships. A universal shared joy at the presence of Jesus Christ. 

We have a taste of that now in our fellowship in the church. We rejoice in the giftedness of our pastors and teachers. I think of the pure delight I feel when I hear Denny Hartford or Dan Hauge express brilliantly something I feel and don't quite know how to say, or they represent the mind of Christ via an explanation of His Word and burdens lift and I feel gratitude and comfort, or the healing of blessed correction or the balm of much-needed soul relief. I don't know how to give it back to them. I love them for it. It makes me wonder what it will be to hear the Master Himself speak to me with all grace and a perfect knowledge of me. 

I rejoice at thoughts of my loved ones enraptured with the love of Christ and fully equipped to express it back to Him. We'll rejoice in the freedom of being able to openly and unashamedly display our love and joy.

If I were to take a long journey on the New Earth to see marvelous sights, I would want Him with me. I'll be able to do just that without waiting for a gap in His schedule, because the Word says He's infinite and omnipresent. It's the ultimate perfection of creation to be in the presence of the Creator and enjoy Him. 

I fully expect spontaneous rather than scheduled convocations of worship, song, and laughter, and leaping.

I fully expect the anticipation of discovering why he calls us together, and finding it far better than the anticipation of any delights we've enjoyed on earth. I fully expect to always be more excited by the Giver than the gifts.

I fully expect a deep sense of fulfillment at performing my tasks and seeing His pleasure at it. 

I'm surrounded by earthly illustrations of these things. I see delight in the eyes of my grandchildren when I make up a story for them. And it makes me profoundly happy. Like heaven: innocence, love, and joy at being together.

I see new joy in the little pup we rescued from neglect and mistreatment. She thrills to be where I am and revels in my attention and shivers with delight when I appear. I am just like my little pup. I was lost, alone, injured, and my Rescuer came for me and set my feet in a broad place and enlarged the borders of my tent and called me friend. My heart is full. And He promises me more in Heaven. Endlessly. On the journey toward Heaven He whispers gently to me: “I have called you by name. I have chosen you. I will not leave you comfortless. Learn of Me for I am meek and lowly of heart and you will find rest for your soul. I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have so much to show you.” These whispers and the loving relationship that expresses them are the joys of the New Heaven and New Earth I most look forward to.

I'm convinced that a failure of excitement at the thought of Heaven has roots in a failure to see what Christ has done for us already, and how great the love He's shown us really is. 

Ephesians 1 - “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of his will.”