When heaven is now…September 30, 2019
I’m greatly enjoying Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light we cannot See – a moving exploration of life set against the Second World War. One chapter is entitled “Heaven” and in it Marie-Laure, blind since aged six, is picnicking with the ailing Madame Manec. It is a rare and brief respite from the war that is raging around them, and they begin to discuss whether heaven is real, and what it will be like. One poignant insight follows another, and the chapter ends: The grasses toss and shimmy. The horses nicker. Madame Manec says, almost whispering, “Now that I think about it, child, I expect heaven is a lot like this.”
Is it possible that now is sometimes a foretaste of all that will ultimately be, an early experience of what we misleadingly call “heaven” but which in the Bible is more fully represented as a world renewed – a new heaven and a new earth, the new earth now the permanent abode of God?
I thought about that last Sunday afternoon. The family has been around for a meal – all our children and their spouses there, and our two granddaughters (2 and 4years) in fine form. After lunch the two grandchildren decided they would dance for us. Rosemary helped them raid our dress up cupboard and they selected suitable dance frocks, and then declared their dolls needed to join the dance, and dressed them as well, selecting suitably shocking pink outfits for them. They then chose their favourite Frozen song, happily though tunelessly bellowing out the refrain “Let it Go” while swirling around and around. As they opted for the same song for the 3rd time, Madame Manec’s comment came back to me: “I expect heaven is a lot like this.” An idyllic little moment, soon overcome by the kinds of concerns we so quickly become absorbed in.
This weekend I have been speaking at a church camp in Esperance – a part of the WA coastline I have never visited before. I had a few minutes alone facing the majestic Southern Ocean coastline, and as I allowed the beauty of the scenery to sink in, again the thought came, “I expect heaven is a lot like this.”
We might live in a fallen world – a world where the pain and brokenness of life is often hauntingly apparent – but we assuredly do not live in a God forsaken world. Sometimes when least expected, God comes and invites us to open our eyes to see all that already is. When we notice these moments, it becomes a lot easier to believe that God has eternity under control…