(Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons)
In these past weeks, the overwhelming sadness and devastation of hurricanes, fires, floods- and now this terrible shooting- have drawn me to my laptop. I needed to write and share words of comfort, words of meaning, but those words haven’t come. I know I’m not alone in feeling this helplessness and despair.
But in recent days I keep having this vision…
Imagine God showing us a “sneak peek” of heaven. We see the most awesome, scenic vista we’ve ever seen. We see our departed loved ones enjoying life together in this wonderful place. (We are even surprised to see some of them- but they now have been transformed by the love of God!) We feel total unity with God, the One who created all of this. We feel completely loved, peaceful, and content. As we look around, we realize how wonderful heaven will be and we’re eager to be part of it.
Then God reveals another smaller part of God’s kingdom. The area is thick and dense with bushes and trees, rocks and walls. Looking closely, we see ourselves walking with others along various paths through the thicket. God explains that right now we ARE in the heavenly kingdom! God reminds us of Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” God invites us to consider this further as the vision ends.
We are already part of the kingdom of God but we are unable to see and absorb its entire beauty. Our view is often blocked by thick brambles of hatred and anger that pierce and wound; high walls of protection that isolate and divide; large boulders of burdens and cares that prevent us from seeing the joy beyond them. Yes, we have days when we see glimpses of the kingdom; lovely moments when we feel God’s presence and love so profoundly. These are the clearings along our path, where we are able to see partial views of the splendor God provides.
There are other times when the heavens are revealed all around us but our focus is on our progress. Our eyes are on our path. We have learned that we must watch for roots, stones, or holes that may cause us to stumble or falter. As we are carefully watching our feet and our next step, we miss out on the grand views before us.
Some of our days are filled with gray, rainy skies of tears and sorrow. We can’t see beyond the fog of despair. These are the days when we hold that heavenly scene in our hearts. We remember the partial views we have enjoyed, the glimpses of glories we have witnessed. We can imagine how wonderful it will be to see the grandeur in its entirety, to be reunited with precious ones we have loved. These encouraging recollections and hopeful visions give us our inspiration to journey on in faith and trust.
And so, until we have entered the fullness of heaven, we walk on.
In the meantime, let’s keep clearing those things that impede our view. As we work to remove the brambles of wounds and hurts, the walls of isolation and division, and the boulders of cares and burdens, we will reveal more and more of the kingdom of heaven.
In the meantime, let’s help others stand when they stumble, to comfort them when they are hurt, and to encourage them that the glorious vista is ever and always present, nearer than we know.
In the meantime, let’s walk fearlessly through the darkness and dangers, in the assurance that we are already home.
In the meantime, let’s help one another notice the glimpses along the way. How might we work to smooth another’s path, to help them look up, and to point out the sacred views of heaven we have witnessed?
In the meantime, let’s pause along the way and watch for God’s movement and inspiration, so we may more fully comprehend just how much God is present and active in our lives!
In the meantime, let’s join together with others in love. Our task is to remind everyone that soon this vista will be completely revealed for all of us to enjoy together. Until then, we will keep clearing, helping, comforting, watching, moving, smoothing, and encouraging. We will work together to bring God’s kingdom to light, to reveal the joys of heaven fully to everyone, and to live here together, forever.
I humbly pray that this story gives you hope and peace, and most of all, purpose.