May 2, 2013

Joy in heaven, joy on earth

Our children had never seen the ocean. I will not forget the wonder on their faces when they first ran through the sand to leap and play in that vast salt water. Our daughter needed glasses but thought her vision was fine until the prescription was filled and they were placed on her. I will not forget the wonder on her face as she saw clearly for the very first time.

The Bible tells me that God has prepared “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined” for those who love Him. What will be the wonder on my face when I experience that place for the first time? And is this the reason why the angels are so joyful?

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)

Spurgeon says their rejoicing could be because they know what sinners have escaped. They “remember that day when Satan and his angels rebelled against God. They know what hell is for they have looked within its jaws and have seen their own brothers fast enclosed within them.” When a sinner repents and is saved, angels rejoice because one more has escaped the mouth of that dragon.

Yet there could be a better reason. The angels know our talk about pearly gates, golden streets, white robes, harps of gold, and eternal crowns, but if they could tell us what heaven is like, they might say, “All these fine things are but child’s talk. God has given you an alphabet in which you may learn the first rough letters of what heaven is. But what it is you do not know.”

I’m thinking about the delight of being face to face with Jesus as well, but as His Word says, I really don’t know what heaven is like. All I know is the sweet fellowship I have with Him here, particularly when I turn from sin to greater and more consistent obedience. My first repentance was for salvation, yet it continues. As I battle sin, winning that battle involves turning from sin and its temptations to face God and receive His blessed forgiveness once again. Sometimes that joy of repentance can be almost overwhelming, too much to bear. Perhaps that is the biggest reason God does not describe heaven in great detail. It is because we mortals do not have the capacity for it. The wonder and the emotional bliss would be beyond what our hearts and minds could hold.

Today my to-do list is long, my prayer list is longer, and my capacity for those responsibilities seems very small. However, God has blessed me with a joy that goes beyond any circumstances and beyond these challenges. I have the sense of being on the edge of something far greater than my imagination, far more than I presently understand. This joy could be described as knowing what I have escaped also, and being greatly thankful. It is much like the anticipation of wonder, the delight of knowing something previously unknown, something like getting to the top of a hill and seeing the ocean rolling before me through a pair of perfect eye glasses of course, or maybe not needing them at all or ever again.

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