“Heaven is where the unveiled glories of the Deity shall beat full upon us, and we forever sun ourselves in the smiles of God.”
Ezekiel Hopkins, “A Puritan Golden Treasury”
Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the groom is with them, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they cannot fast. (Mark 2:19)
This was Jesus’ idea. He was bringing correction to the lives of those who were very serious, and especially those who felt the most religious. Often, our native tendency is asceticism. We evaluate ourselves religiously by our prayers and our fasts.
For serious people, we have a serious religion, and we focus on doing a serious religious activity, for that is what our serious faith demands.
Jesus pointed out that mournful faces are not indicators of a pious life. How can His disciples mourn when Jesus the bridegroom is nearby? His disciples are going to a wedding, not a funeral!
Without question, the New Testament believers are to know repentance and self-examination. We should grieve over our sins, but that grief is to be based on hope and joy. Jesus changed everything.
If you are saddened by sin, that sadness must be tethered to joy and not to despair.
The disciples could not mourn and fast while Jesus was present. He does not wish His disciples to go mourning and fasting when they have no occasion for such exercises. His words are a defense of Christian joyfulness. Christ wants His friends to be glad. There is an utter incongruity in a sad and mournful Christian life. It does not make sense in light of what Jesus has done.
Our sins have been forgiven–erased, cleansed, and washed away. We have been dipped into the righteousness of the Son of God. The fierce enemies of our souls have been eradicated by Jesus. All of this is to bring out a song from a grateful heart. We revel in the smile of Jesus and walk under the banner of beautiful love. We have His forgiveness and have been given His favor. We should be radiant!
I pray that you will rejoice in this wonderful day He has made.
Sometimes it seems like bruises are part of life’s gift package to us.
Dancers are some of the most talented people I know. Their gracefulness can be seen both on and off the stage. A dancer’s training is far from easy. But by choosing to become dancers they have made a decision to absorb pain.
Their toes and feet are blistered and bruised; they take constant abuse. Some live with chronic tendonitis. Their feet bleed sometimes, and pain is their constant companion, but they still choose to dance.
Two things to consider.
They choose to dance. Dancers must operate with an iron will and an elegant grace. I suppose that is why they can dance the way they do. They have painfully blended the two.
The scars and bruises often become “badges of honor.” They would rather dance in pain, than not dance at all.
I once heard someone describe depression as having a mental bruise. I think I might understand.
As one prone to depression, I know what it is like to bury myself in my bed for weeks at a time. My own mental bruise was simply more than I could take. There was a sensation of sinking into blackness, a sense of total and complete despair. I felt lost and completely alone.
I prayed. I groaned, and I prayed again.
My sense of being totally lost in sad, dark thoughts was beyond comprehension. Dear reader, this was something quite real, and you must become aware of these things. Some of your friends are suffering, and it is often a hellish and desperate depression.
We would never say that diabetics are that way because of the enemy. The dark one will surely exploit it, but I think you give him far too much credit if you suggest he was able to initiate it. I don’t think Satan has the spiritual “voltage.”
I refuse to hide my mental bruises from those who share my pain. I will make the choice to dance. I’m bruised, but I will try to ignore the pain. I would exult in my God, walk in His love, and “leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Malachi 4:2.)
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”
“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
In some odd way, our lives seem to be always getting interrupted by God. And it can happen a lot. We need to see the invisible. When we can, it can be quite amazing. Our night sky here in Alaska is wonderful. I see stars that others can’t, and the northern lights here are wonderful.
But probably the most phenomenal night skies were in Mexico while camping on the beach. As I lay there I looked and the Milky Way was on full display. It really was as good as it could be. It seemed there were 10x more stars than ever before.
Laying on the beach I gazed up, and a weird sort of fear gripped me.
It was almost a panic; I started to tremble and shake. I got up and ran to our tent. I just couldn’t handle the incredible universe with no buffer. I was completely undone and reduced to a quivering speck of dust. I tried to tell my wife Lynn what had just happened to me, but I couldn’t. I was too scrambled. I couldn’t speak.
Reflecting on this, I realize now what I had experienced was “awe.” It was something much more common a few generations ago. There is a kind of existential crisis which we side-step in these more modern times. We rarely contemplate the night sky. We seldom, if ever, have seen fire in a bush.
It seems we have traded our awareness of an authentically Almighty God, and in turn, we get to pick all blackberries we can haul. We reason it out and feel we have made a better bargain. But when we extricate this from our souls, don’t be surprised if we suddenly find that we have become spiritual paupers.
Maybe we should learn to see those things that are invisible.
Each of us has the opportunity now to see the spiritual world that swirls around us. Why wait for heaven? Ask our Father to reveal His glory now in this present moment. Learn to see that which can’t be seen, but by faith.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made.”
He continued to release the string of the kite and it went higher and higher until it was completely out of sight. One of his friends walked up and asked how he knew there was still a kite on the other end. He replied. “I know it’s there, I can feel it tugging on the line.”
Like the kite, we can’t see heaven with our eyes, but we can feel it tugging at our souls!
As a person with a mental illness, it’s easier in some ways to think about that place I am journeying to. Through many cycles of depression I find this present life gets old, and the more I hear about heaven, the more excited I get. I imagine a life without meds, and the constant monitoring of my moods. This place is going to be good, and that’s just the start!
I sometimes think of my infirmities and pain. I can’t wait to “shed” this mental illness.
To be free from it will be one of best things I can think of. To take off my depression, like a heavy coat on a warm day. To sit with Jesus in a cool garden with living water, that’s more refreshing than any iced tea. Eternity is my favorite things to think about–
“Where the unveile’d glories of the Deity shall beat full upon us, and we forever sun ourselves in the smiles of God. “
I want to encourage you who are struggling now, with depression, anger, schizophrenia, paranoia, abuse, OCD, addictions, PTSD, bipolar or any other handicap. There is a day coming, when we will forget the challenging battles that we’ve had to face. Wait for it.
And I must tell you, with all the strength I can muster–take hope and just journey one more day, and go ahead, dream about heaven.