I see heaven invading this place / I see angels praising your holy name / I sing praises, I sing praises / I give you honor, worthy Jesus*
We live here.
Granted, you live wherever you live, and I live in an apartment with a remarkably comfortable green sofa and a dirty floor. But it’s here–in this world–that we live, at least for a time. We live here, but we pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Sometimes, when I see pain bubble up on faces of strangers when they’re doing something as simple as picking out apples, or when I’m sitting in traffic on Highway 280 in Birmingham, I whisper simply, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come.”
We know that this world, with its pain and its evil and its traffic and its grounds in the coffee, is a long, long way from the wholeness and fullness of joy we will experience once we can look full into the face of God; we know it because it hurts too much here for it to be where He is. Life here is abundant, as promised; life here is also snagged and dented with trials, as promised. There is another place, where we are untouchable by the enemy. And that, friends, is hope, no?
But what about here?
I was talking to a dear friend at church a few days ago when she got one of those messages, the sort that slap you quiet, and white, and paralyzed. I overheard as she received news of the enemy’s work, as the fallenness of the world was thrust into her heart, and I felt my own body grow numb. I didn’t know the people involved, but nonetheless, my own soul swelled and shook as I listened. And then the baby in my arms stretched.
I’d forgotten about Jude, who had begun shrieking the moment his parents dropped him off. I’d stood with him in the hallway, waving together at the passersby until his eyelids fluttered and fell, and he nestled a little closer to me. I’d grown used to the weight of his warm little limbs and used to the gentle rocking dance that we did. My arms and his body had molded, and as I listened to my friend, I’d completely forgotten he was even with us; then he stretched, and I looked down in time to catch contentment settle back into his features.
The conversation continued, but suddenly, I was caught between here and there. I listened as their voices rose and fell around words of sadness and pain, but my eyes kept catching on this face that embodied goodness and grace. I felt tears rush my eyes and back off, unsure of where to land. I felt heaviness fall and lift, land and settle, but one look at Jude would send it spinning, and I didn’t realize it then, but I do now: Heaven on Earth. Glimpses and snapshots to fill us with hope, to set healing in motion. It’s the Father reaching down to whisper in our ears, “I know it hurts, but press on. I know it hurts, but I love you. I know it hurts.” It’s in the face of a baby, and the laughter with a covenant friend, and the way the light rushes the clouds, and the very Presence that falls when we seek. It’s in coffee in the morning, and divine protection, and wildflowers in a field (I bet you didn’t see that one coming.) But it’s not just good things; it’s not noticing the lovely bits, though that is a swell practice to employ. No, it’s when we experience the magnificence of the Kingdom of God, that which is all-powerful and in constant motion around us. It’s when we glimpse not just His beauty or His grace, but His straight-up glory, His ridiculous sovereignty. It’s what causes you to lose your breath when you think about him numbering and naming the stars. The world is fallen, yes, but we can find Heaven here, because our God is with us, remember? Emmanuel, here.
So this is just to say that if you’ve been shaken by the grey and the rain, there is sunshine coming. If you’ve been smacked by the stories on the news, there is a gospel prevailing. If you’ve been pulled under by the undertow of up-giving, there is hope. If you feel like the fallen world has won, there is redemption, and there is victory. If you are at a loss for words when you turn your face to the Father, start with, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come.” Then taste and see that He is here, and He is good.
He is always good. He is here.
“Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them, because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.” –1 John 4:4
*”I See Heaven” by Brian & Katie Torwalt