"Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.' He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" -Revelations 21:1-5.
It's Easter week. The week of good news. We so needed some of that around here right now.
It's not that there's anything "wrong" -- but our life has felt to be in a sort of perpetual limbo for quite a while now, and limbo tends to wear on me after a while. I'm kind of tired and worn out, more than a little stressed with a number of various challenges right now and just need the sun to shine on me -- both literally and figuratively. There's uncertainties, unknowns... and a little bit of doubt, even though there shouldn't be. There's nothing wrong. There's just a lot of questions that I would so like some answers to.
God hears my whispers late and night and knows my heart. He knows me. And he sent Dave Bartlett to our church stage yesterday to speak a message I so needed to hear. One about Heaven, and what the Bible says... one of hope and promises and assurances we can count on. Pastor Dave has a way. He speaks, and I know his words are God-breathed. I know God blessed Dave's message yesterday. When it comes to Heaven and our eternal home, the Bible seems to give us just enough information to make us long for it, without giving us too much so that our human minds aren't able to comprehend. But as Dave told us yesterday, using words right from the Bible, "Imagine your best Heaven. And then hear God's whisper that it's going to be even so much better than that."
This world and its uncertainties are not forever. This home is not my permanent place. He's preparing one that's the very best for me. Dave said that he believes as Christians and Bible studiers, we have gotten far too caught up in what we think Heaven will be like - we interpret it to be too much of a spiritual world - too "angel-based," as he put it. But Dave reminded us yesterday, utilizing Biblical text and context, that when Jesus makes his triumphant return, the Bible clearly states that God will create a new Heaven and a NEW EARTH. The Bible tells us there will be streets and cities - but without death or crying or pain. And where God will descend down from Heaven and walk with us daily, living with us forever. Probably much like the Garden of Eden before The Fall. I'm so grateful to Dave for how he reminded us over and over again to dream our biggest dream of what it would be like. And then to know that it will be even greater. Because God promises us so. And Jesus died on the cross and rose again to make it possible.
"Dream your best dream of God's new heaven and new earth. A place where you are both comfortably at home and at the exact same time on an adrenaline-filled adventure. A place where you are continually learning amazing new things while receiving the deep love and companionship of God and your loved ones. A place where your body works better than it has ever performed before and you never get tired, or afraid, or hurt. A place where colors are brighter, love is deeper, opportunity is amazing, and we worship God in every way. Dream a bigger and better dream because God will do more than you could ever imagine."
I can't put into words how strongly I felt God's presence right there in that church service yesterday. I saw it in the hands raised to the ceiling during worship... "All God's promises are 'yes' and 'amen'" ... and in the silhouette of that little toddler holding his Palm Sunday branch high in the air while sitting atop his Mama's shoulders. I felt it in the quiet tears that crept down my cheeks without end and I felt it in the beating of my own heart - that in an unexplainable way seemed to be beating stronger and deeper, as if Jesus Himself had his fingers intertwined with mine right there in those moments.
This blog post doesn't do enough to fully account for how strong and wonderful a message we were blessed with yesterday. I strongly encourage you to watch Dave's full teaching here. I will be carrying his words with me in my heart until the day I'm called home.