Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Never-Ending Vacation at the Beach

My mom and dad (who passed away in March). They were married 64 years.
Have you ever tried to convince someone to try something that you know is wonderful, you know they’ll love it, but you just can’t get them interested?

For example, I’m still convinced that my husband would love the TV show Lost. He would adore puzzling out all its mysteries and symbolism. But his opinion is that it’s just another stereotypical TV show and he’s not interested. If you’ve ever watched Lost at all, you’ll know how misguided that attitude is. I mean, you can think that Lost is too weird, too confusing, too out-there…but just another stereotypical TV show?! I just shake my head, amazed.

I often think God is shaking his head at most of us—at least most of us in contemporary Western culture—and our blasé attitudes about Heaven. Do you ever confess to yourself that Heaven sounds just a little, well…boring?

I’ve been thinking and reading about Heaven a lot lately. Maybe it’s my age, but it seems that more and more of my treasures are in Heaven, so it disturbs me when I try to think about it and can’t picture anything much, maybe clouds and vague harp music in the background. It’s hard to make Heaven seem exciting and real.

I love what C.S. Lewis said along those lines: “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward … promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (from The Weight of Glory)

This week, I’m actually preparing for a “holiday at the sea.” (That sounds so much more elegant than what I would usually say—a vacation at the beach.) I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to it. The beauty. The rest from everyday worries and stresses. Getting away from it all.

It struck me that I should be in a constant state of anticipation for the vacation that will never end. For the seashore beyond all seashores, beyond my imagination of how splendid and beautiful it will be.

Which, of course, is a great deal of the problem. We can’t imagine the unimagineable. But we can do things that help. Read the Biblical passages that describe Heaven. Dwell on Heaven instead of our stresses. For me, it even helps to watch fantasy movies that stretch my imagination and help me picture things I never could have invented by myself.

I want to live in a state of anticipation all the time, not just when I have an earthly vacation coming up. As Lewis indicated, sometimes our lives in this prosperous society can seem pretty awesome. But that feeling doesn’t last, does it? The vacation ends. The car breaks down. Worst of all, friends and family members go on to Heaven ahead of us. When that happens, I’d rather lift my eyes and gaze out onto the sea than keep my head down, wallowing in the mud.

If you feel the same way, here are a few books that are helping me:
  • ·         50 Days of Heaven by Randy Alcorn
  • ·         Heaven: Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada
  • ·         Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
  • ·         The Slumber of Christianity by Ted Dekker