I remember those first precious moments of our first baby's life. I remember looking across the room at her daddy holding her in his warm protective arms lying on the couch in our cramped hospital room. I remember the silence, the stillness, of that moment. The wait was over. She was here; all ten toes, all ten tiny fingers bundled in a blue and pink blanky. I knew then, this must be what the wait for heaven is. Through groaning and misery and wonder and fear, we wait. Then it sweetly arrives and joy overwhelms; a perfect moment of time; a goal reached, an end met. Anxiety is finally put to rest and fear will be no more.
"When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby she no longer remembers the anguish, for her joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." ~ John 16:21
I can close my eyes and hear my best friends singing. I can feel the presence of their voices surrounding me. In my last year of college at the close of a choir concert, we stood in a circle and sang The Lord Bless You and Keep You. Have you ever stood in the middle of an accomplished choir surrounded by their strong voices? I wish this blessing for every person. There is simply nothing like it and the energy of the music is palpable. I close my eyes and feel the power of their voices wash right through me. I still hear them in that perfect moment of unity and well-wishes. There was heaven in that moment, and it is hard to hold back emotions as I hear their sweet song in my memory. Standing among my closest friends, holding hands, and knowing that moment would never be recreated allowed us to sing in an uninhibited way...until the day comes when we can sing together again.
"Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:17
After a difficult year of ministry, my family took our first big family vacation to Disney World. My husband and I had railed against the marketing genius of Disney for years for the overpriced shmooziness that Disney is. Having three kids, especially one who is a princess fanatic, changes a parent. We caved. Humbly I confess, we loved every second, but the memory that enchants me the most is the walk into the Magic Kingdom. As we strolled down the street toward the castle in that crowd of humanity, I looked at my family; at my sweet kids. Their little faces were all lit up with joy and huge smiles looking ahead at that beautiful castle. My boys started to run toward it, and my daughter grabbed my hand while my husband tightly held my other hand. I knew in that split second how wonderful it will be to see my family walking, no running, into glory. The smiles on that coming day won't compare to the run toward Mickey. The run toward Jesus will be so much more.
"...one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." ~ Phillipians 3:13
"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." ~ Phillippians 3: 20
I once knew a champion of Christ who lived a great adventure. On this continent and others, she was an evangelist, a loving minister's wife, a mother, a mentor, a prayerful grandmother, a friend, a bible teacher, and a sassy opinionated woman chasing after the Lord. She brought so many souls to Jesus because her life was a yellow brightly lit road sign pointing to the Christ. On the day I said goodbye to this sweet friend she was propped up on her couch looking at a photograph of her mother who was already celebrating with the Lord. I knew what she must be thinking, "See you soon, Mama.", while the rest of us standing around her were thinking "Absolutely not! How will we ever find someone else like you?" And, we won't. I am happy for my sweet friend. When she left this world, she left behind pain and weariness. Surrounded by her family and friends, her goodbye was a grand hello to her Savior; a picture of what I hope my goodbye looks like one day. Today she holds her mother's hand and sits at the feet of Jesus. I will see her again.
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." ~ Revelation 21:4
Heaven is around you. Soak in the sweet seconds and picture how much sweeter the years are to come. From the tender first moments when we first see glory,
to our blessed reunions,
to the end of all pain and sorrow,
to finally never having to never say good-bye again, I'm thankful for these little hints of what joys await.