April 10, 2009

The Hope of Paradise (Edited Version)

I'm experiencing writer's block... 2 weeks in. Sad.

I did, however, get a new coffee pot today.

I know what you're thinking, LAME.

(I am very excited about it though. It even has a blue LED light displaying the time, and for some reason I think it's beautiful and keep looking over at it.)

You know, now that I think about, something that I've encountered a lot of lately are so many tragic stories. And not just stories on the news, but from people that I feel connected to, even if I've never actually met them. Just recently Matt told me about a high school boy who fell asleep at the wheel. This young kid will most likely finish life in a physical and mental prison. His dad is a rock-solid Christian and continually expressed to Matt his unwavering faith in God's goodness. And I absolutely agree with him. I am not one of those people that thinks that when bad things happen, God is no longer good. That's not the God we find in the Bible. God enters our pain. He bears our pain. He gives us the hope of Paradise where there is no disease, no accidents, no tragedy.
The image that people have of Heaven grieves me. You know, white sarongs, puffy clouds, catatonic faces, a bright light. Why would anybody look forward to that? A celestial nursing home.
But, imagine with me for a moment the most beautiful place you've ever seen. Maybe you've actually been there, or maybe you saw it on Planet Earth. Think of the majestic-ness of it, and the breath-taking awe and wonder that overtook you that such a place existed. The mountain range in Antarctica immediately came to mind. I don't know it's name or many details, but I do know that when I saw it (watching Planet Earth) I was stunned at how beautiful and untouched it was. But I've also been stunned at devastation.
Think of the ugliest, most devastated place you've ever seen. Perhaps you saw news coverage of the massacres in Darfur. You saw the orphaned children, the bloodied bodies, the devastated landscapes and people. Everything about it was so wrong and not what was meant to be. And for me, it reminds me that this world is corrupt and ravaged by sin in the individual heart that manifests itself on the communal level, affecting so many.
And yet beauty still exists in breath-taking reality in places on this earth. And my heart aches with the purity and cleanness of it. But why?
Have you ever experienced what I can only vaguely describe as that something? It's otherwordly, a deep longing, a sweet reminiscence of a place you've never been. It's the tiniest taste of desire that's. Just. Right...There. And you can't quite place your finger on what the desire is or what it would be like realized, but you just know that it's wonderful and exactly where you want to be. If you could just quite figure out Where that is, and What it is.
I believe it's an innate spiritual GPS within every single one of us, a reminder that we were not created for this world. We were not meant to live in the heart of death and destruction and evil. It's a tiny taste of the Paradise that awaits those who have trusted in Christ. And the reason we cannot quite put our finger on its exact location is because we've never actually been there...yet. But we know, we know that we know that it's real and we know that we know that we know that it's right where we've always wanted to be.
The picture God paints for us in Scripture of Heaven that even Jesus, Himself, referred to it as, is one of Paradise. Even as John wrote about the tiniest glimpse that he'd been given in the book we now know as Revelation, he kept using the word "like". He saw with his own eyes and yet he could not adequately express the insane beauty and reality of it all. Even Paul wrote that he "was caught up in Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak" (2nd Cor. 12:4). He was not even allowed to speak of what he'd seen. Why do it injustice?
A place where utter longing, utter knowing and being known is fulfilled, devoid of shame, doubt, fear, distrust, blame, selfishness. A place where we see the Lord face to face, high and lifted up. In an environment of utter paradise.
I know You tarry, Lord, because You "are not slow about Your promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2nd Peter 3:9).
And yet, come quickly, Lord. We long for Your wholeness in Your Paradise.

1 comment:

  1. Your view of heaven is awesome Sara--it really helps all of us to strive harder yet relax in the glory of knowing it is ours. Thanks. On a lighter note---we hung the chimes last night---just love them---our neighbor has the same one---so we are making beautiful music together.....Thanks--it was such a thoughtful gift! I miss you both!!!July cannot come soon enought!!!!!