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.

One of a Kind Heart

How can I read Psalm 138 and not sing aloud to God. David had many faults, and so do I; but he loved God in a way that touched God’s heart, and I want to do the same. God doesn’t need perfect children; He simply wants to be loved. It’s what David wanted, and it’s what we all want.

“I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing praises to You before the gods.
 I will bow down toward Your holy temple
And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.

 All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O Lord,
When they have heard the words of Your mouth.
 And they will sing of the ways of the Lord,
For great is the glory of the Lord.
 For though the Lord is exalted,
Yet He regards the lowly,
But the haughty He knows from afar.

 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
 The Lord will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” NASB

God is Love, and my heart is a one of a kind creation designed especially by Him.  According to Reverso,”Designer clothes or designer labels are expensive, fashionable clothes made by a famous designer, rather than being made in large quantities in a factory.”  Designer labels are expensive, but they do not compare with a one-of-a-kind creation which is, according to dictionary.com, ” unique; pertaining to a singular example.”

A singular example perfectly describes my heart which is one of a kind and cannot ever be duplicated. If I had an identical twin with the exact same heart, mine would still be unique because hearts are more than simple cells put together to form an organ. My heart has nothing to do with the organ that shares its name. My heart is the part of me that will live on long after I am dead. It is at my very core and is what makes me, me. It longs to do what it was created to do – love and be loved by God and others.

God designed my heart to love Him, and He loved me first. That is a powerful truth when I hold it next to my heart. It gives me hope just as it gave David hope and will give my granddaughters and their granddaughters hope. That’s the beauty of a heart, and  I cannot help but sing out in thanksgiving when I wrap my heart around God’s love. Psalm 138 is a perfect example of just such thanksgiving. I hear David’s heart in a powerful way!

I’ve given my heart to those who have hurt it deeply, and I’ve hidden it away in fear. I’ve also known the feeling of love in its truest form, and that gives me a taste of what God has in store. True love is about sharing the truth with love, and no one is better than God when it comes to that. It makes me want to sing, and that’s the best sign that my heart is right where it needs to be:)

Love’s Simple Gestures

Simple gestures convey love in big ways. Love prefers common ground to extravagant display. A word, a smile, a loving look, or a listening ear causes love to bloom and grow at a sweet, steady pace. Look to romance novels if you want love that doesn’t exist anywhere except in the imagination of those who have never known true love, but look to the everyday if you want to find true love worth loving forever.

When I think of true love, I think of Carl shaving Ann’s hair when it began to fall out during her chemo and telling her she how beautiful she was after a half century of marriage. True love changes the heart and grows stronger with each simple gesture. I think of Wayne talking about Brenda with that silly grin he still has after fifty years:) I think of Charles patiently caring for Kay as her memory slips away. I think of Jack lighting up when he talks about Dorothy who has been with God for a while now. Nothing extravagant in the way they display love, but all show a connection to God that makes those simple gestures so much more than the love this world promotes.

None of the couples I know who exemplify true love will ever be the subjects of a made for TV movie, and their stories will not be on the best seller list. I’m afraid no one would watch or buy because we want passion, and sex sells! The irony is that true love is much better than sex. True love withstands the trials of time and moves mountains, but it does so one loving gesture at a time. Unfortunately, we are a throw away society that wants immediate gratification. We toss and turn in life and in bed because we just cannot get the satisfaction Mick Jaggar screams about in his song.

The body screams like Jaggar, and the inner voice of the heart is drowned out in the process. I suppose it’s human nature to want what we want when we want it, but I’m slowly learning that asking for God’s desires to become mine has quieted my body’s screaming and allowed my heart to sing a new song. I’m learning that love is quiet and best expressed simply.  God’s love is the key to all love. Sharing His love is what makes simple loving gestures so profound. If God is in a knowing look, a held hand, a smile, or a listening ear, then true love’s soft voice is loud and clear and changes the heart forever.