Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 21, 2007
A home with Jesus awaits all believers
The erosion of Mark's earthly body becomes a 'temporary' torment
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
Late one night when I was a small boy, I awoke to the sound of my father playing the piano down the hallway in the living room of our home. He was playing Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune. Ironically, a full, clear, blue moon flooded its light through the window of my bedroom; shadows from a tree in the yard danced on the floor and across the walls of my room.
There, beneath a mountain of blankets, I was engulfed by a sensation of ecstasy, bliss, joy. It was as though something touched me, deep within my being not from across the room, rather across time. It was a sensation of inexplicably sweet, ancient joy: Something akin to a desire for Eden.
The joy came from a sudden knowledge that I had always been loved-even before I was born. A desire arose for something and somewhere beyond me. This gigantic yearning lasted only a moment then disappeared.
Although I could not articulate it as a little boy, sitting there under my pile of blankets, I had longed for heaven as profoundly as any time since then in adulthood.
This encounter with joy occurred at the very dawn of my memory.
Almost 30 years later I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was a horrible time. The disease robbed me of physical function and dragged me into a veritable roller coaster of bizarre neurological dysfunction.
Shock and grief
The day I was diagnosed, a tide of shock and grief washed over me. I laid in stunned disbelief on the hospital examining table looking blankly at the ceiling.
Suddenly, and without warning, I was engulfed by the memory and joy (almost forgotten) of that earlier event from the dawn of my memory. The remembrance and the accompanying joy happened in complete contrast to my dire situation.
In the days and weeks that followed, fleeting raids of joy would visit and overtook my terror and grief. These raids of joy were like sedatives or anesthetics. Although I was grateful for what occurred, I did not understand the significance or message.
Later I came to understand that nothing happens that God does not allow. He had allowed this for my own good. He was teaching me to trust him even in apparent defeat. He was changing me to be more like him and less like me. He was (is) preparing me for eternity.
The Bible tells us that there is a season and time for everything: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to speak and a time to be silent, a time to embrace and a time to let go.
The same portion of Scripture (Ecclesiastes 3) tells us that God has placed the "timeless" into human hearts: The eternal - the human soul. This "timeless" is, I believe, a longing for heaven, although it may not be understood as that. It is tied to the indelible image of God that we all bear. (See Genesis 1:26-27, and 5:1)
Imbedded in each human is a similar longing for somewhere else, a desire for something that is just beyond their experience.
Is it the taste of eternity, the timeless that King Solomon referred to in Ecclesiastes? St. Paul said, "For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven."
Our bodies are flimsy like a tent, yet we have an eternal dwelling place in heaven "not made by hands." It is made by the love of Christ. Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where (I) am going you know the way" (John 14:1-3).
Yes, I know the way. It is through faith in Jesus Christ. It is through Confession, repentance of my sins and faith in Jesus Christ. His sacrifice at Calvary took away my sins and reconciles me to the Father. Granted my temporary earthly tent is being destroyed by disease, but Christ is preparing a heavenly dwelling for me. Some Bible translations even call it a mansion. What awaits me is permanent, heavenly, eternal. The best part is that I will be with Christ himself. If it is not true, he would not have told me.
The Bible says . . .
I choose to trust there is an ordained purpose to my suffering and physical destruction on earth. My affliction is momentary in the greater scheme of things. The Bible assures me it is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
I do not know what glory God will reveal to me. All I know is what I learned as a small boy and my encounter with heaven's joy: I have always been loved (even before I was born). Imagine! A permanent dwelling - a home - waiting for me where I will always be with Jesus. The same is true for all who believe in Christ and follow him. They know the way.
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