In a recent post, I wrote about how Heaven will be full of sinners. I wrote about how we are already saved, blessed, and graced in Jesus Christ. That even before we turn to God that God has already done the hard work. Done. Finished. Our life here and now is a mere response to the unlimited, unconditional, unwavering love and grace of a God so big human words could never capture. The most gifted writer can only point at who God is. Even the bible is a mere pointer and hint of the awesomeness of God. Jesus is the human face of God. To truly understand and appreciate God gaze upon the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
I know this can be hard to understand to comprehend. I find trouble myself getting it. Yet, I know it is true. I trust in the love of God.
The other day I stumbled upon a way to understand or at least begin to grasp the idea that God is a God of love and grace. I found it all unlikely places on the pages of an old children’s book, a Sesame Street book starring the lovable, furry Grover.
Yes. You heard me right.
In this book, Grover is horrified to learn that there is a monster at the end of the book, and begs the reader not to finish the book, to avoid meeting the monster at the end.
Fearful of reaching the end of the book, Grover constructs a series of obstacles, such as attempting to tie pages together and laying brick walls, to prevent the reader from advancing.
Increasingly frightened (and in awe of the reader’s strength overcoming the obstacles), Grover pleads with the reader to stop reading as the book nears its conclusion.
However, the monster turns out to be Grover himself. Grover jokes that he tried to convince the reader that the monster would not be scary—but we see at the end that he is embarrassed.
We are frightened God will condemn, punish, and destroy us in the end. That is a lie. Yes, a lie. God loves us. God loves every one of us. He wants a relationship with us, a relationship that will save, bless, and grace us more than we could ever know, hope, or dream. God is for and with us. In everything, God means and works for our good, it may not always look that way, but in the end God will save, bless, and grace us.
So, if as I (and others) proclaim heaven is assured to us than how should we live?
How should we live towards heaven?
I say with love, grace, kindness, gentleness, honesty, hope, humility, light, joy, peace, and courage.
Those are all qualities we should work on acquiring more of. I know I need and I am working on. To be the people of God means extending to everyone the love and grace God has lavished on us to others. We saved, blessed, and graced not merely for our own sake but for others too. This is both personal and communal. Our life now and later is personal and communal.
Anne Lamott said, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
We are called to model what God intends for the world. On our own, we cannot live up to and into this call, but Jesus gathers us into community to become the people of God forgiven sinners united and living life to the full in the spirit. Heaven is not about some later paradise devoid of the messiness of humanity and unattached to life as we experience it now. Heaven is this life the one we are living now fulfilled and full of the all the blessings of God. Heaven is a living breathing growing experience of the divine.
I don’t know how it will look in detail, as no one living has been there, yet I believe it will be much like this life only more so. I don’t need to worry about later. God will handle the later. I need to be present to the now to the here and live here and now how I hope to live then. The later is the mysterious promise hidden in the here and now.
So, live the best now that you can in the blessed assurance that the later will be even better, greater, and glorious than anything we can hope, dream, or experience now.
Grace and Peace