Tuesday, January 20, 2009

heaven



Heaven.

i guess it's supposed to be this big comforting idea.

The runner-up prize when we've prayed for healing...

Sombre angels with white robes & glowing halos - harps & streets of gold - Hawaii's climate - lounge chairs at the beach... Singing in a choir - getting all our questions answered...

No sadness - no grief - every tear wiped from every eye...

Yeah, i've read my bible... & i have cultural influences that have shaped the way that i think about this *place*... i have my own ideas of what seems right and fair...

& yet to me - to really get a grasp on Heaven seems to be impossible.

i find when i think about *heaven* ~ it's not this big comforting idea. There are too many unknowns. Is my baby a *baby*? What does it look like there? What work will i do? Is my child *waiting* for me there - or does time stand still & we'll get there at the same time? What do i know about heaven that isn't somebody's imaginings?

When i think about heaven - it makes me ache. It's too personal. Too unimaginable... Too foreign.

We've got ideas of Heaven, that need to be able to mix with the reality of death. The tangible, heart-wrenching, how am i going to keep on keeping on pain of death... contrasted with a bed-time story book version of Heaven.

To be honest... a bed-time story isn't good enough when we're talking life and death.

So, i was mulling this idea in my mind & all of a sudden, i stumbled on the comforting part....
God is there.
God is what i *know* about heaven.
God loves me... He loves my children... He has a purpose and a plan.
God is Good.
THAT is not somebody's imaginings - of white robes & angel wings with ethereal halos... that is TRUTH.
Heaven is *only* comforting because of God. Not as a half-fictional, half-reality based story to take away the tears for a just a moment - to imagine something comforting for someone who has lost someone precious...

But we're forced to believe & HOPE for what we do not yet see -(Romans 8 ~ the whole chapter)... i know... i keep referencing this passage in every 3rd or so blog post... 's worth reading again & again...)

When we lost our precious baby in February of 2007, i wasn't even far enough along in my pregnancy to have picked out names. From the time we found out our baby had died, until my body was able to give that little one up, God gave us time. Days and days that in my mind i have labeled as my Hope Vigil. God's presence was tangible, thick, palpable. Moment by moment, He met with me - When i woke up in the middle of the night, He was there. When i couldn't make myself get out of bed in the morning, He gave me strength. He met with me in my grief and comforted me. He gave me dreams, words, thoughts, beauty, art, music. My God - saw me - me - a needy little wife and mother, and because he *loved me* He saw fit to reveal Himself to me in those days like He never has at any other time in my life. When my children heard me cry that we didn't have a name for the baby, Sloanie very gently suggested that we name our baby Hope.

It was perfect.

That evening, to comfort me, they all cut out hearts in red (it was Valentines day when we found out) & they used the references in the back of their bibles to write out as many verses as they could that held the word, "HOPE". That passage in Romans became something that i could know about Heaven... Heaven was something *hoped* for... Not something i already knew. Our baby's name is a reminder that *hope* is precious - & that *hope* does not disappoint us (Romans 5).

This is the God i serve. A personal God - who chooses to reach in & despite the fact that there is so much about life and death that is unimaginable - He makes me capable of Hope.

Heaven is faith-building.

& yeah, maybe there are days right now - when the thought of it feels foreign -

... but i know that because He's there - it's more home than here.

So, we'll sojourn her a little longer - but,

"i am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (romans 8:38)

7 comments:

Shawna said...

This is so what I needed to hear today. My friend found out her closest cousin had a brain annurizm(sp??)last night and will be taken off life support soon. She is devasted and a new Christian and is struggling for *Hope* and Truth. Thank you Paige for sharing your heart.

mamazee said...

Paige, i know when T's Opa died there was a comfort for me in thinking that my little baby Charis would have her great Opa up there, someone i knew, someone who treasured family, someone who held all my babies (except for her). i was telling God that in my prayers, and i felt Him laugh at me,saying "what? am i not enough?" - and yes, He is, but for me, the "bedtime story" version was what i needed right then. Not only for comfort about baby Charis, whom i have pictured in Jesus' arms, but for Opa, too - to be with someone small and precious and new who loves him and needs him. I know it's not Biblical, i know it's maybe not logical, and maybe it shows my own lack of faith that i needed that :) - but i think you're right, that our view of heaven really does show what we truly believe about God - and just like there are so many things i don't know about Him, heaven is still such a mystery. But i do have peace knowing that God is good, and God is wise, and what it is, is good beyond my ability to imagine. So He lets me have my bedtime stories, confident that when i see how it *really* works out, it will just blow me away :)

Luke said...

I have really been inspired by C.S. Lewis's depictions of heaven in his works. And while, yes, Heaven is going to be something... I'm really looking forward to the New Heaven and earth, where, I suspect, we will continue to do great things and live life to its fullest. That's comforting to me because it isn't foreign--it's what I'm longing for.

~Luke

paige said...

YES!
i was telling my mom that the only book i had read that helped me wrap my mind around the idea of heaven - (even though it's just one man's thoughts on what could possibly be...) was _The Great Divorce_. It's been awhile since i've read it though - i'll need to read that one again.

Mindy said...

Excellent post, Paige. I've been thinking along this topic lately myself, too...

jessica jespersen said...

It's interresting that we *do* sometimes think of Heaven as "...the runner-up prize when we've prayed for healing..." Shows how tethered we are to earth doesn't it? Lord, tether us to Heaven where You are...and until then, help us to bring Your Kingdom to reign here on earth, our temporary "home". Make us homesick for Heaven, and You.

L Harris said...

Thanks for that post, Paige. I've had many of the same questions about our baby.

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