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Archive for the ‘Longing for Heaven’ Category

What does forgiveness cost? What is the currency that’s expended in trade for the words, “I forgive you?” The coin of the realm we must relinquish is legal tender backed by the things we hold dearest: our pride, our patience, our time… To forgive costs us our pride. It costs us the right to be the one who is right. It costs us our patience and our time, because to forgive means to step down from our hard won high place and stand on level ground where we might have to give again, might have to sacrifice again, and might even have to bare the indignation of being wronged again.

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Mending and healing are two different things, I’m learning.  Mending means the stitches hold, the pain gradually lessens, the energy slowly returns.  Mending seems to be inextricably releated to time.  You can’t rush mending.

I have a feeling that healing is something different.  Healing, I think, is more connected to re-creating than rebuilding.

I’m working on mending right now, but I’m craving healing, in oh-so-many ways.   Time makes a poor thread for binding deep wounds, and the healing that comes with “give it time” is such a poor replacement for the healing balm of gospel restoration.

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We cannot enjoy peace in this world unless we are ready to yield to the will of God in respect of death. Our times are in His hand, at His sovereign disposal. We must accept that as best.

John Owen (Meditation on the Glory of Christ, 1684, Preface)

The best moment of a Christian’s life is his last one, because it is the one that is nearest heaven.  And then it is that he begins to strike the keynote of the song which he shall sing to all eternity.

C.H. Spurgeon


Death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains…Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot block a man’s pathway for even a moment. The shadow of a dog can’t bite; the shadow of a sword can’t kill.

C.H. Spurgeon


A Christian knows that death shall be the funeral of all his sins, his sorrows, his afflictions, his temptations, his vexations, his oppressions, his persecutions.  He knows that death shall be the resurrection of all his hopes, his joys, his delights, his comforts, his contentments.

Thomas Brooks (The Transcendent Excellency of a Believer’s Portion above All Earthly Portions)

Death is the last and best physician, which cures all diseases and sins – the aching head and the unbelieving heart. Sin was the midwife which brought death into the world; and death shall be the grave to bury sin! O the privilege of a believer!

Thomas Watson (The Christian’s Charter.)

Tears are a tribute to our deceased friends.  When the body is sown, it must be watered.  But we must not sorrow as those that have no hope; for we have a good hope through grace both concerning them and concerning ourselves.

Matthew Henry


For we brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world (1 Tim. 6:7).  There are no U-Hauls behind hearses.

John Piper (Desiring God, p. 161)

Once a man is united to God, how could he not live forever?

C.S. Lewis


If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, p. 119.)

I don’t know about you, but the more I think about the new heaven and the new earth, the more excited I get! It is incredible to think that one day soon we will not only experience the resurrection of our carcasses, but the renewal of the cosmos and the return of the Creator. We will literally have heaven on earth. Eden lost will become Eden restored and a whole lot more! Not only will we experience God’s fellowship as Adam did, but we will see our Savior face to face. God incarnate will live in our midst. And we will never come to the end of exploring the infinite, inexhaustible I AM or the grandeur and glory of his incomparable creation.

Hank Hanegraaff (Resurrection, p. 92.)

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In an excellent message on Ephesians 4:22-27,  titled as above, John Piper points out that “if there is any way that Satan can assist you to hold a grudge, he will do it. For there are… … goals of Satan which are greatly advanced when professing Christians hold grudges…”

One of those goals of Satan is to crush Christians into uselessness.  Here’s a place Satan has a hey day in my life: when repentance (which can be accomplished by one person) doesn’t lead to reconciliation (which takes two), I can fall into a paralysis of self-doubt.  When I don’t measure up to being “fixed enough” to be worth the effort of relationship in the eyes of someone, it’s easy to start listening to Satan’s words more than Christ’s.

Here’s how Piper puts it:

Satan aims to crush broken Christians until they are depressed into uselessness. Paul tells about an instance of church discipline at Corinth in which the offending party repented. Paul counsels in 2 Corinthians 2:7, “So you should turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you reaffirm your love for him.” The burdens of life are so great at times that someone’s grudge against us can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. You can destroy a person by holding a grudge against them—the very work of Satan from the time of Cain and Abel.

(John Piper, Satan Seeks A Gap Called Grudge, http://www.desiringgod.org) (h.t. cawleyblog)

So the battle for me is to find my rest in the reconciliation of Christ.  I feel, so strongly, the tug and pull of how Satan would like to destroy every shred of faith I have, by keeping me focused on the pain of unreleased grudges others hold against me.  The battle requires falling and getting up a thousand times: sometimes a thousand times a day, it would seem.   Piper’s sermon is a good reminder that my enemy isn’t the person with the grudge, but Satan.

This morning, going into the weekend, I’m in the middle of those 1000 times.  And, through the sadness, shouting Micah 7:7-8 at Satan as often and as loudly as I can.

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Seeing Differently

I still consider myself very much a student of painting, and I’m far from confident whenever I approach a new piece of work.  But there is, even in the learning process, a delightful sense in which I can loose myself in the seeing. Today, painting the velvety petals of anemones, I saw how their violet blue color can have a golden orange warmth and a rose red highlight and a blue black shadow, all within the space of a few centimeters.

bg1

When I’ve been painting all day, as I did today, I have a few residual hours after I leave the easel in which my sight is changed.  For a few hours, every fold and crease and texture gets noted and named.  I mix colors in my mind as I look at objects and people (I watch my daughter sitting on the couch: how would I catch the way the warm light from the wood stove is playing on her face, pushing back the shadow that curves around her defined features… raw sienna… a touch of alizarin crimson at the round of her cheek…a bit of cobalt blue where the light begins to fade…)

Then my seeing begins to fade.  I still have sight, but I stop seeing. I move through the house and see words and uses instead of colors; there’s the folder of papers I need to remember to take tomorrow, there’s the coffee cup I left out this morning (and I wonder if the dishwasher needs to be run?) and there are the shoes I kicked off in the middle of the kitchen floor…  My mind begins to fill up with thoughts and projects and duties and, before I know it, I’ve lost the sight I gained, like some forgotten childhood language.

“Now we see through a glass darkly…”    For me, part of the “redemption” of heaven might mean the redemption of seeing all things properly and fully.  Maybe for now, I can’t really handle seeing like that all the time, and so God only allows me little controlled bursts of it.  Maybe there’s a sort of safety mechanism that keeps us from seeing too clearly when our souls can’t hold it yet. (I picture something like the natural defense our irises provide to protect our optic nerves from receiving too much light: maybe there’s a sort of “aperture” that closes on our attention, to keep us from burning ourselves out in a full, unveiled awareness of beauty…

I picture that when we’re able to look at God with unveiled faces, we’ll be looking with those perfected bodies and minds that can contain the pure beauty we’ll stand before.

For today, just the purple in an anemone was enough to bowl me over.  I can’t wait for heaven.

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“…and above all, with the destruction of the sting of death together with death itself, whose pangs now often trouble us and force us to grieve for one another, with salvation secured, we shall rejoice in the eternal possession of Supreme Goodness; and this friendship, to which here we admit but a few, will be outpoured upon all and by all outpoured upon God, and God shall be in all.”     

(Aelred of Rievaulx in Spiritual Friendship)

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It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us even when we have no strength to hold Him.”

(John Piper, When the Darkness Will Not Lift)

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