Heaven Isn't Too Far Away
My wife and I flew to Chicago yesterday to surprise our good friend on the occasion of her fiftieth birthday. It was one of those moments when everyone actually kept the secret and she was completely surprised when we showed up at her work.
Last night we went out to an incredible French restaurant for one of the most memorable meals I've had in a very long time. We had perfect seats, great food and drinks, and the conversation was full of joy.
As I sat there taking it all in, I was overwhelmed by a thought that filled my heart near-to-bursting. "This feels eternal." And by "eternal" I think I meant heavenly. It felt like heaven to eat and laugh and drink with friends--pushing back our busyness, connecting, listening, enjoying the energy between us.
My thoughts about heaven aren't the same ones I was handed when I was a kid. When I was a kid I thought that heaven was a sparkling, shiny, but sterile kind of place.
When I was told about heaven's streets of pristine gold, I thought about how I would be afraid to walk on them. I really didn't want to spend eternity there, but I didn't know how to tell anyone.
I've come to believe that "heaven" is where God is, and since God is imminent, all around us, in us and through us, then heaven isn't too far away either (cue the Warrant song for all you former hair band aficionados--admit it, you just hummed a few bars).
I think we discover those eternal moments from time to time. They happen when the space between "here" and "there" becomes thin, when the Spirit of God rejoices and sings over us and the air literally becomes heavy with what the ancient Hebrew poets called the kavod or "glory of God."
During this season of Lent, practice the fine art of paying attention to the eternal moments that are happening all around you. Let them fill you with resurrection hope. May you discover a new sense of the presence of God in the Risen Christ, glimpses of heaven that overwhelm you with love.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.