I've written posts about hope. I've written posts about heaven. Go, and look for yourself! I wrote those a long time ago, but the full meaning of the hope we have in eternity has not yet sunk in, as my wonder and revelation from my friend's powerful words has revealed. We hear it all the time: "God, thanks for the hope you've given us through Your Son." I almost always skim over that phrase in prayer, ignoring the amazing weight it really holds.
Jesus has given us hope- that's the truth. For those of us who believe, we no longer have to fear death, darkness, evil, or sin. None of those things hold any power of us. That is our hope. We have a guarantee of heaven- an eternity filled with life in paradise. That is our hope. Hope should be something we rest on, and firmly believe will always hold us- not something we are worried will expire over time, or run out because of our actions. If God's salvation for us relied on our own works- we'd all be screwed.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God,
not by works so that no one can boast.
But... what if we are not excited about that hope? The truth is, if we understood what lies in store for us as believers, our lives would be different- we would live as those who are anticipating the day when they will finally return home. Unfortunately, there is no way that our puny, finite minds could ever grasp more a sliver of the gift we have been given. I'll admit, sometimes when I think over the fact of the coming eternity, I dread it. Yes, I know we will be in paradise. Yes, I know we will be in God's presence. But somehow, the idea of never ever dying seems awfully tiresome and... hopeless. Can anyone relate?
I feel guilty for admitting that fear, and I know that I will not feel that way once I get to heaven. But sometimes, the sheer hugeness of eternity, a hugeness that each one of us will experience, is overwhelming. It would seem that simply fading from existence would be a much more pleasant destiny.
My thinking has finally been shattered, thanks to my good friend. Think of the most amazing worship service you have ever participated in. For me, I'd have to say it was at YC Alberta, 2013- This Is Love. For three days I was overpowered by the deafening music, the tear-jerking, hand-raising worship, and the vast number of youth and leaders all gathered together as one body of believers. It was incredible. I was terribly sad to leave- I just wished every church service, every chapel, every devotion-time would be... that great. Looking back, the reason it was so intensely powerful was because I literally felt the presence of God. With at least twelve-thousand people all singing the same words of praise, "Let it be known: that our God saves! Our God reigns! We lift you up! Let it be known: that Love has come! Love has WON! We lift you up!" It never got old. I can't count the number of times we sang that chorus, but it was like with every repeated word, I cried harder, I lifted my hands higher, and I praised louder. The Truth of what God has done for me came crashing down like a tidal wave, and I just wished I could stand there and sing forever. I didn't want to go back to my hometown. I didn't want to go back to school. I didn't want things to return to normal- I wanted to experience that moment for eternity.
Hmmm.... something's clicking.
I said that the reason those moments were so powerful, was because I felt like I was in the presence of God, singing for Him personally. I loved it. I didn't ever want to leave. So think about it just for a moment- think about that 'aha!' moment in worship or in prayer or in discussion or in devotions, where you felt the Holy Spirit coursing through your veins, and the revelation that God was giving you was enough to make you burst. Think of the incredible love you felt. Think of the joy that flooded you, and the encouraging strength that motivated you to become who God has created you to be. That moment, whether you have had one or many- that moment is something we all crave. It is better and more fulfilling than any worldly desire could ever give. We are blinded to the fact that we need God so badly, and even after those moments, we forget how truly fulfilling they were, and we look for the same fulfillment in money, items, status, relationships, and other unsatisfying things.
But those moments of perfect worship, where I feel like I am singled out- the only person in a giant ballroom in front of the Holiest King of Kings, those moments where every worry, stress, failure, mistake, and judging pair of eyes around me simply melts away... it is the most intense pleasure I have and will experience. I was shaking, I was crying, I was simply covered in goosebumps, and I couldn't stop smiling. The presence of God. I can hardly put my thoughts into words.
Being in the presence of God is the proof that our Christian struggles are not being fought in vain. Being in the presence of God is proof against every critic and against every persecutor that we stand for something greater than any punishment and any amount of human scorn. Being in the presence of God is the best, and that is not said flippantly, in any way. And thinking of how amazing those few, precious moments were to me, I just wish I could be transported back to that place and back to that moment and relive it again.
The sad thing about those moments is... they end. Routine life kicks back in, and it is more of a downer than ever. After being in the presence of the Lord of Lords, regular every-day life just seems so pointless. It's depressing, and numbing. Which is why, the realization that heaven will be a continual worship session just blew my mind!
That very moment, standing at YC with my arms to the sky and my sobs louder than my words and the love of God simply engulfing my small being, I will get to relive that- and it won't EVER end! It will simply grow and grow and grow, and be the absolute best thing ever. Not only will I be shouting and screaming along with the full body of believers, but also with the angels! There will be nothing to hold me back from simply throwing every little bit of my into worship. Everything on earth that holds me back from dancing down the aisles, from screaming with joy, from kneeling, from raising my hands- those will vanish. I will be FREE FROM FEAR
When I was little, I thought heaven would be free roller-coaster rides, all-you-can-eat-buffets, no going to bed, friendly lions and tigers, flying through clouds... and maybe it will be. But, if it isn't, I won't care one bit. I will be in the presence of God, and it will be a zillion times better than the most intense worship service that I'll ever experience on earth.
And it will never end.
1 Peter 1:9~
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of
Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.