Heaven Without Love?

In his book, God is the Gospel, John Piper asks, “If you could have heaven with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven if Christ was not there?”

I thought about that question for a moment and quickly decided absolutely not. Without Christ, there would be no love, and there are not enough wonderful things in this world to take the place of one moment of love. I’d rather have the mess here with Christ’s love than an eternity of what I want.

The absence of love is hell, God is love, and His presence is heaven. If Christ isn’t in heaven, then it isn’t heaven. I had this discussion with a dear friend this week, and we decided that heaven without God would be a field full of happy California cows chewing cud and looking at the beautiful scenery. It may be bovine bliss, but humans are created to love. Without love, having everything I wanted would leave me empty and searching. Cows are contented when fed, and so are humans who have given up on love.

Happy Cows?

Without love, life is lifeless, and heaven is heavenless. Love is what makes the difference in life. I cannot make others love me, but I can love them with the help of the Holy Spirit. God could make me love Him, but He knows love doesn’t work that way. He could easily give me everything I want and make all things perfect, but how would I learn about love? My heart’s been broken, but I still believe in love. Loving and being loved is what makes life worth living. Love reigns supreme in heaven, and that’s because it’s God’s home. I get a sweet taste of the heaven to come every time I spend time with someone I love. It whets my appetite and makes me want more. As long as I’m in this world, love will be a challenge. I plan to keep on loving and being myself because God loves me just as I am and so do all who understand true love. God knows better than anyone that I’d be miserable if I got everything I wanted. The most miserable people in the world are the ones who get what they want because love gets lost in their selfishness. I’m learning to ask for what God wants, and that’s changing everything.

The Journey Home

I knew I was home this morning when I awoke to the sounds of Lillyann and Mylah squealing. I’ve missed my sweet morning wake-up call while I was away from home. Traveling reminds me that home is truly where my heart belongs. I’ve always  loved coming home, and that was never more true than it was this week. I loved the beauty of Topsail Island, and it was wonderful to see my sister. However, I’ve never been happier to see the mountains than I was on Friday.

For over a week, I’ve struggled with God’s image of coming home. I just couldn’t wrap my heart around the lesson God had for me. I was getting very frustrated this morning as I continued to miss the message. I decided to leave it alone, stop trying so hard, and just wait it out. That usually works when I hit a stumbling block. I was shocked this morning when Pastor Jeff began talking about Jesus telling His disciples He was going home. I hope I am always surprised and delighted by the way God works.

The message today reminded me that I attach my definitions of father and home to heaven rather than letting Christ’s definitions shape my vision. I did, at least, understand that God was referring to heaven when He was bidding me to come home. Going home can be difficult, as Pastor Jeff reminded me this morning. Our homes and fathers are imperfect and always will be. I had to unpack my feelings about my father and home so I could embrace the Father and the home Jesus is trying to get His disciples to see. I’m sure they struggled as I did; in fact, they must have struggled even more because they had Jesus right in front of them. They could reach out and touch Him, so I’m sure they did not want Him to go anywhere without them.

Jesus used the best examples in this world to try and get across the love He so wanted them to know was waiting for them. As I told Jodi this morning, I’ve been looking at home and father from the wrong perspective. I understand God, the Father’s loving home much more clearly that ever before if I think of my own son coming home. It doesn’t matter what he’s done or where he’s been; I want to see him and love him. There is nothing in this world I love more than seeing Tyler after being away from him for a while. God feels the same way about me. I’ve been thinking about past hurt and the difficulty of going home in terms of how I would be welcomed. Looking at it from a different perspective healed my heart in a very beautiful way this morning.

Christ’s precious love brought me to the shore and cleared the path for me to go home long ago on the cross. His grace and love are all along the way home, and His Father’s love is waiting for me at the door of heaven. He’s waiting for me to come home so He can do what I do each time I see my son, my precious grandbabies, or any one of my dear family and friends. I can imagine that love now, and that changes everything. I know the way I feel about my son coming home is a drop in the ocean compared with how God feels when He sees me coming home, and that makes the journey home worth all the stumbling and getting lost.  It makes me want to jump for joy the way my little girls do when they see me. Lillyann literally jumped into my arms yesterday when I was waiting for her at the Play Lodge, and Mylah did the same this morning after church. Children delight in coming home and seeing those they love after being separated for an hour, day, week, or month. It doesn’t matter to them how long they’ve been away. They just delight in seeing a loved one, and I plan to take their attitude as I continue on this journey home.

This picture of Tyler and Lillyann reminds me of how God will feel when I get home 🙂

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