Bright and shiny in my inbox this morning was an email from jcpenney (just like that), that said, "What You Really Need Right Now". And I'll admit I've seen those shoes and that sundress and I'd almost have to agree; summer is in full swing here in Denver, and the weather just calls for a cutesy wardrobe. And, I'll also have to admit that the new and improved jcpenney (their lowercase choice) just tickles my fancy.
I was slightly taken aback, however, the things that I most need right now are certainly not hot deals on swimsuits, sunglasses, and flip-flops. Little does jcpenney (...oh, you get it) know, that these things will just never satisfy what I really need right now. Sure, I could run on over to the mall, spend a few hours in the dressing room, and leave with a super-cute outfit for sushi tomorrow night, but by the next morning, I'd still be confronted with some of my bigger issues. Please do not misunderstand me here, remember when I wrote about God reminding me about beauty? He so gently whispered to me that I was created for beauty, in beauty, and to have and make beauty. He made a world full of color, wonderful textures, beautiful lines, and awe-striking shapes. To be clothed in these things simply reflects who God made us to be.
I just think it's a stretch to tell me it's all that I need, and I need it right now. If only marketing and advertising of good churches could be as clear and progressive as those of the sales industry...
And maybe they are; tons of bloggers and writers out there are pretty in your face about things, but hopefully they're providing what you really do need right now. Hopefully they're reminding you that even though we think we live on earth to be happy and fulfilled, and one day we'll die and just be dead up in heaven, we actually live on this earth to get some work done and experience pure happiness later on.
My professor said last night, "I think God cares much less about our happiness, and much more about our transformation." You kinda hated that a little bit, right? Because I did about five years ago, two years ago, and then about a month ago. That's not so easy to swallow, given that we have lost sight of what heaven will really be. We think this earth has all the best clothes, food, money, houses, entertainment, scenery, tourist spots, etc. etc. We think we've got to make it count here, because then we'll die and have to live in heaven, as if there's no choice but that. And then the anxiety settles in. All we'll have to do is sit around in cloth robes, demanded to praise and pray all day like monks in Tibet. If this were true, of course we would want to see all we can, do all we can, and live like crazy to make our lives enjoyable in the few years we get.
The setting for this will be a great party, the wedding feast of the Lamb. Now, you've got to get images of Baptist receptions entirely out of your mind-folks milling around in the church gym, holding Styrofoam cups of punch, wondering what to do with themselves. You've got to picture an Italian wedding or, better, a Jewish wedding. They roll up the rugs and push back the furniture. There is dancing: "Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well" (Jer. 31:13). There is feasting: "On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples" (Isa. 25:6). (Can you imagine what kind of cook God must be?) And there is drinking-the feast God says he is preparing includes "a banquet of aged wine-the best of meats and the finest of wines." In fact, at his Last Supper our Bridegroom said he will not drink of "the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18). Then he'll pop a cork.
(Desire , 141-42) John Eldridge
Have you ever been to a dinner--out on a patio on a summer evening, at a friend's house--and they pop the cork on the wine, and food is passed around, with hits from the 80's inspiring shoulder dancing all around? Yep, that's what we'll do in heaven.
But for now, we've got a purpose to work hard on this battered, beaten world. Not that there won't be purposes in heaven, but it will be such a restful place--the kind of place you take in a deep breath and feel really alive. (This place, for me, is like a coast or waterside, an Adirondack chair, a really good novel, and my oversized beach hat…and a coke, with lime.) I've got a job to do here in the meantime--to help breaking and troubled hearts, and then my heart will find its ultimate rest and healing around that table with the feast and the wine and the music. (There might even be some great outfits to choose from. ;) )
And really, can you even imagine the music there? I don’t think our only option will be soft, lofty praise…
Oh, friends. Heaven will be so full of joy that we cannot even begin to comprehend it. Our little joys here on earth are just glimpses or tastes of it all. God does care about your happiness, so much so that He's got a place at that table for you. He'd just like you to bring your friends and family with you when you come.
Do you have questions or concerns? Go ahead and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk a little more.