Good Things to Think About

Heaven has been on my mind again. The bible verses we are learning on our drive to school have to do with Jesus going to prepare a place for us. When you say a passage of scripture every day, it starts to permeate your thoughts. 

 

I picked up C.S. Lewis’ “The Last Battle” which is all about heaven. Then I checked out Randy Alcorn’s book, “In Light of Eternity”. The main emphasis I came away with is heaven is an amazing place that we should be excited about going to. Like, Really Excited. Both Lewis and Alcorn talk about how heaven will have the best things of earth. It made me start thinking about things that I love about earth. Mountains. I love mountains. Forests. Rushing rivers. Waterfalls. In my imagination, heaven would be kind of like being in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park without all the tourists or paved roads, and I’d have all the energy to run and climb and hike without ever getting sore feet or sore muscles. And there would be more wildlife that weren’t scared of me. 

 

And then there would be the people. It really hit me that all the people at my church that I worship with every week…we’re going to be seeing each other throughout all eternity! In a place where all our superficialness will be stripped away. And all our sin will be gone. We will be ourselves in the way that Jesus originally intended us to be. And not just my church or my generation, but people from all over the world, all generations. 

 

Then of course, there is Jesus. The main event. The Reason. It’s hard to imagine being able to live by sight instead of by faith. While I hear Jesus’ voice quietly on occasion, while I see his hand working in my life, while I read his words in the Bible, while I speak to him all the time…it’s all by faith. Can you imagine seeing him Face to Face??

 

It reminds me of a vision I had once. It was over fifteen years ago. I was just pregnant with my third child, though I didn’t know it yet at the time. We had just left Chile after living there about a year and half. We had stopped in Tennessee for a month so that Andy could work and earn us enough money to continue our road trip North. We were very much in limbo at the moment, trying to figure out where we were going to settle. Our old friends allowed us to stay in their empty rental property, the house we had lived in when we first got married. The house was in a quiet neighborhood, lots of old trees hanging over the road, offering shade. It was summer. I was determined to get in shape and I had started jogging in the mornings. I was probably only jogging two miles max. If that. But, for my level of ability, that was a big deal. I didn’t have any way of listening to music, no walkmans, discmans, mp3s, iphones etc. It was just me. I was really missing music to help me keep a steady rhythm. So, I started singing in my head a song I had recently learned at church: Jesus, All for Jesus by Anna Warner and William Bradbury. These are the lyrics:

 

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans

I surrender these into your hands

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans

I surrender these into your hands

For it’s only in your will that I am free

For it’s only in your will that I am free

Jesus, all for Jesus

All I am and have and ever hope to be

 

As I was running the words became a rhythm to keep my feet moving forward. I made my way down one street and then another, trying to find the balance of making the run long enough to get a good workout but not making it so I killed myself. As I ran, my brain focused more and more on the words and I felt my hands opening in a gesture of worship as I purposefully sang the words in my head as a prayer. I started climbing up a hill and saw that I was in the last stretch before I got back to my own driveway. I picked up the pace a bit to try and end strong. And suddenly I wasn’t in a quiet little neighborhood, instead I was a on a race track and there were people lining both sides of the race track and they were cheering for me, and I looked more closely and I saw my Grandfather Rigby and my husbands’ Grandma Ivah and they were standing there waving and cheering, and I remember feeling surprise. Why were they cheering for me? I really didn’t know them that well. And then I looked up and at the finish line was Jesus and he had this big grin on his face and he was just waiting for me with his arms open wide. And I found myself running harder and faster, sprinting towards him and I could hear my ragged breaths and I could taste metal in my mouth as I ran as fast as I could. And then, the race was over. I was in my driveway. Collapsed on the ground as the vision slowly faded away. My face splotched not only from heat and running but from tears. 

 

Not the most original vision. I have heard the analogy of our life being a race many times in the scriptures. I remember there was an awesome song by Steve Taylor called “The Finish Line” that I listened to as a teen, all about running the race of life. Not an original vision. But, I was in it. I was living it. I was actually running it and I could feel the physical effort and exhaustion and exhilaration. 

 

It has stayed with me over the years. When I’m feeling weary and I have to start whispering to myself, “Just keep moving, just keep moving…” I sometimes remember that vision and the fact that people were cheering for me, rooting for me, and then also the fact that there is a prize at the end of the race. Jesus. Heaven. Paradise. 

 

These are good things to think about. 

 

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