I just finished reading a book about the Christian Story that brought Reality into sharp focus. Here’s a quote that grabbed me:
Have you ever noticed that certain types of experiences provoke a profound flow of emotion,…and you weep or cheer or are so filled with wonder, you’re speechless?… We have an intense longing in our souls, a hunger that nothing in this world ever seems to satisfy, as though we’ve been made for another world…. Once in a while, though, something happens that gives us a taste of that world…. The next time you see something—a moment in a film, or an embrace, a poem or melody—that transports you and makes you weep, though you’re not sure why—in that moment, God is giving you a foretaste of Glory. (Gregory Koukl, The Story of Reality, quote adapted)
That resonated. How many times have I been reduced to tears by a sublime poem or piece of music? Just recently, we walked into a church service as a large bell choir of 15 or more ringers played the prelude. Five minutes of incredible beauty! With watery eyes, I stepped momentarily into heaven and worshiped there.
God gives us these glimpses of ultimate Reality. Heaven is not an “I hope so” sort of projection. We have the Bible’s word about heaven and hell—spoken clearly; we have the testimonies and incredible experiences of short-term visitors there; and we have those tiny but super-emotional glimpses that are heavy with promise. For those who love and long for the arms of our Savior, it’s a sure thing. But for those who don’t care about that sort of relationship, the door will be shut—forever. (Are there similar glimpses of hell with all its horror and devastation?)
Please—tune your heart to bell choirs and the deep, merciful love of our heavenly King.
Please tell me about your glimpses of heaven’s glory. Comment here, or email me: email@example.com
Makes me miss my bell choir from Knoxville. We played some pretty incredible music that sometimes just MADE the whole service (particularly when we played for Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services). That’s hard to duplicate in solo ringing!
You’ve broached an interesting subject. I have not done much thinking about what heaven would be like but if it is anything like the ephemeral times of rapture I have known I have much to look forward to. I’ll relate a few of such moments. The most recent was when a caring banker listened to my plight of losing my home. I let it all hang out as they say. An hour later he told me what he was going to do for me. A month later all the pariahs were finally off my back and my most fervent prayer had been answered. I introduced my son to “the miracle man” yesterday as he happened to be in his office.
A few years back I went to see the “Polar Express”. I had never been to a 3D movie and I did not realize that in recent years 3D technology had been virtually perfected. And there was no place that makes it work better than IMAX. As I watched the wind blow through the boys hair as he walked along on the top of one of the cars I felt a ‘high’ come over me that I had not experienced in many years. I was not watching the movie anymore. I was in the movie. The only sad part was having it end. That movie embodied every element that I love- Christmas, trains children, loyalty, commitment, spectacular animation and a heartwarming story. Indeed Tom Hanks is a genius. I returned for five more showings bringing a new gang of kids with me each time. Though I enjoyed the revisits to the film, that high that I had the first time did not return.
Thinking back in recent days about when I was the happiest I think catching turtles in Bobby’s Pond is probably at the top of the list. I would have my aches scattered there but the pond was filled in many years ago. A house unceremoniously sits where one of God’s pieces of heaven on earth once flourished.
Stalking other aquatic critters at Sebago Lake ranks pretty high on the list too. If you read my essay “If Turtles Could Talk” you know what I mean. Making a spectacular catch at Gatchell’s Playground in Marblehead that made my father cry and conquering Mount Washington get honorable mention for a heavenly preview. Thinking about past moments of bliss is fun and perhaps gives us a foretaste of what is ultimately ahead but what I think is more encouraging to me is pondering the great men of history and how God used them for a greater good. Winston Churchill and Dietrich Bonheoffer come to mind. Surely these men are now at the right hand of the creator.
As for hell I have an unbridled faith that injustice will be dealt with in terms probably too harsh for me to contemplate. That man was created out of some primordial puddle of slop through random motion of a bunch of atoms and molecules does not make any sense. There has to be a purpose beyond our own self gratification and aggrandizement. No figure in human history has had the transformative effect on civilization like Christ. Nothing validates the word of God better than the abuse that the Scientific Method is suffering in today’s pop culture environment. Watching the false prophets in action and the media that fawns over them provides ample evidence for the need of a strong and abiding faith that keeps us from the abyss of darkness and ignorance.
yes, those glimpses of heaven are great, but I shudder to think of glimpses of hell on earth… too many!