Tag Archives: Heaven

Glass Beach

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MaryMy friend Mary and I have a shared hobby.  We both love to collect sea glass.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with sea glass, it is pieces of broken bottles and glass that have been rubbed smooth by the surf and sand.  Blue sea glass is especially rare.  By walking up and down a stretch of beach and paying close attention to the bits of shells and flotsam, sometimes a beach comber is rewarded with a pretty piece of glass.

I did not grow up near a beach, so I never knew how much I loved the ocean until I moved within a 90 minute drive of a coastline.  However, Mary grew up in California.  Recently she discovered a beach that is famous for it’s sea glass.  For both of us, the beach is our happy place, our place to walk with Jesus.  The beach has the power to renew a weary soul, and it is special to find a souvenir of sea glass.

As much as I like sea glass, I think God must look down on my foolish collecting of trash and shake his head in Fatherly bewilderment that I would find bits of broken glass to be treasures.  When my sister was little she collected bits of moss and leaves in a dresser drawer.  My parents weren’t thrilled with this, but they didn’t stop her.  Her childish treasures were of great value to her though they just looked like dirt to the rest of us.

It’s probably the same with my sea glass.  From his Heavenly city made of precious stones and pearls where people walk along on streets of gold, God looks down on Mary and me walking up and down a strip of sand searching for broken beer bottles and he just shakes his head and smiles.  “Just wait until you see what I have for you up here in Heaven,” he’s probably thinking.  Our little treasures really are trash.

sea glassThis makes me think about our spiritual treasures.  The things that we value and treasure- the way we conduct our lives here on Earth- may end up being nothing but a pile of hay and stubble once we get to Heaven and see what things have true eternal value.  The endeavours and pursuits to which we have given our lives will all come under scrutiny.  Everything will be tested by fire.  What looked sparkly and pretty here on Earth might end up being worth nothing.  It might just serve to feed the fire.

Only things done for God will last.  Only pure motives will survive the scorching heat of the Refiner’s Fire.  The Apostle Paul essentially said, “When I think about all the great things I have accomplished, I consider them nothing but trash compared with the immeasurable honor of knowing and serving God.”  All our great accomplishments are nothing but a handful of sea glass compared to serving the Lord.

Home is where my heart longs to be

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I have been feeling so “homesick” lately.  But not for my Minnesota home.  I have been missing old friends that I’ve had to say good-bye to.  Spring is coming, which means another round of saying good-bye to friends who are leaving at the end of this school year.  Missionary life is a constant round of good-byes, and it makes my heart ache. 

I deeply long for Heaven- where I will never again have to say good-bye.  I get so weary of this life.  I want to shout, “Enough already!  I’m ready to go home!!”  I want to jump into the air and just continue going up and up and up, never again feeling my feet thudding back to the earth.  I don’t belong here.  I want to go home.  I am longing for Heaven.  

(I don’t remember if I’ve shared the lyrics to this song before, but I love it.)

 

Going Home

By Sara Groves

I’ve been feeling kind of restless.

I’ve been feeling out of place.

I can hear a distant singing,

A song that I can’t write, and it echoes in what I’m always trying to say.

There’s a feeling I can’t capture.

It’s always just a prayer away.

And I want to know the ending, things hoped for but not seen

But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyway

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table

Going home, I’ll meet you in the air

And you are never too young to think about it

I cannot wait to be home

I’m confined by my senses

To really know what you are like.

You are more than I can fathom

And more than I can guess

And more than I can see with human sight

But I have felt you with my spirit

I have felt you fill this room

And this is just an invitation

Just a sample of the whole

And I cannot wait to be going home!

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table

Going home, I’ll meet you in the air

And you are never too young to think about it

Oh, I cannot wait to be going, to be going home!

Face to face, how can it be?

Face to face, how can it be?

Face to face, how can it be?

And this just an invitation

Just a sample of the whole

And I cannot wait to be going home.

John Lennon Imagines…

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timeI watched the Times Square New Year’s Celebration on T.V. last night.  I wasn’t really interested in anything they were doing, it was just kind of a cultural tradition to observe.

At one point in the program they had the lead singer from “Train” singing his version of John Lennon’s song “Imagine”.

I thought, “This is a horrible song, but I cannot think of a more appropriate description of what we have become as a nation.  We have realized John Lennon’s Imagine song and look where it has gotten us.”

Lennon crooned: “Imagine there’s no Heaven.  It’s easy if you try.  No Hell below us.  Above us only sky.  Imagine all the people living for today.”

Living for today requires you to deny the existence of an afterlife which might possibly include judgement for our actions.  What a convenient way to negate consequences, just bury your head in the sand.  This is what happens to people who live only with today in their sights.

They rack up debt with no thought to how they will pay it back.

They become hedonists who just live for the next “good time”- party animals.

They get drunk and get behind the wheel of a car.  Every day in America, 27 people die in drunk driving accidents.  Living for the moment makes you reckless with the future.

People who live only for today have sex outside of marriage, get pregnant, and eventually have a legal abortion.  There have been over 53 million abortions in the United States since Roe v. Wade was legalized in 1973.  If there is no heaven or hell, this is no big deal.

There are approximately 34 million people living with AIDS, both adults and children.  I would venture to guess that the majority of them did nothing to deserve this horrific illness.  How cruel do we have to be to deny these poor people the hope of Heaven, a better life after this wretched one?  Only someone who is eager to avoid God’s judgement for himself would rob another of his hope for something better.

John Lennon has been dead for 23 years now.  I would like to ask him if he would care to revise this song now.  He sang what we have become.  We rang in the new year with a self-righteous hymn to our own glorious imagination.  But what if Lennon was wrong.  What if we are wrong.

Here’s to all of us who do not live self deluded.  Here’s to all of us who WANT a Heaven and who FEAR a Hell.  Here’s to all of us who don’t consider living for today to be a noble way to conduct ourselves.  Here’s to all of us who actually care about what God thinks of us.  Let’s do this thing right.  Let’s rip off the blinders and look Truth square in the face.  Here’s to a year where we don’t have to rely on the imagination of a drug addict to find a better way to live because Jesus has already revealed it to us.  Here’s to the year of our Lord 2013.

I am the Ring

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Tired

Lord, I’m so tired.

Life is feeling long and weary.

The days are feeling so… daily,

So routine.

I am growing weary of this old world

Its dramas

Its heartbreaks

Its disappointments

Its aggravating tendency to break down and wear out.

I am ready to be done with the temporal.

I’m longing for the eternal.

Does it really matter, all the things I give my time to?

Does it really matter if the grout in my shower is white?

Does it really matter if every corner of the house is dusted?

Does it matter that there are 20 pairs of shoes cluttering the front door?

Why does this stress me?

My heart and mind are longing to soar

My hands and feet are moored to this soil

This pull between here and there

Now and later

Heaven and Earth

Is causing me to ache all over.

You know I’m just made of dust.

This old, earthy case for my soul is feeling shabby and dull

And inside my soul sparkles and shimmers

With intense longing for my source,

For the Rock from which I was cut.

I am the Ring

Return me to my source.

I just want to be where you are, Lord.

I am just so tired, so very tired.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

And if you don’t come rescue me,

At least come close to me.

“All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”  Psalm 38:9

Take a step back

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For all you non-bloggers out there, let me take a step back and explain what just happened when you clicked on my blog today.  (This is not a blog, this is only a test of the Emergency Blog system.)

We have this feature on WordPress called “reblog”.  When I read a cool post from another blogger, and I want to share it with you all here at Monkeys in My Bag, I just have to click the reblog button and it shows up over here.  It’s cool, in theory.  But the thing that I don’t like is that you get this confusing look to the reblog with just a link to the original and MY comments about it on the very bottom.  In my opinion, my comments should be the first thing you see so I can tell you WHY I thought this other blog was reblog-worthy.

But since I have no control over this, I want to encourage you to take a step back to yesterday and read the reblog that I posted for your blog-reading-enjoyment.

The reason why I chose to share that reblog called “When Serving Jesus is a One Way Ticket” is because the author very simply and very accurately describes that feeling that I have as a missionary of being less and less at home in the world.  I’ve said it before, so I’ll take a step back and repeat myself, “When I’m in Costa Rica, I miss Minnesota.  When I’m in Minnesota, I miss Costa Rica.  It’s all because my real home is in Heaven.”  I’m always pining for something that isn’t mine… yet.  Home.

Heaven is my home, my Great Hope, my Anticipation.  Someday I’ll hear God say to me those words that thrill my soul, “Well done, Daughter.  Here’s your eternal home… and you never have to move again.”  Welcome home, there have never been two sweeter words.

So take a step back to the repost from yesterday evening and enjoy a blog that really spoke to me.

The view from my home in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The Heavenly Olympics

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My husband is an avid sports fan.  In his sports world there are two great events:  The beginning of Fantasy Football Season and the Super Bowl.  These special dates are trumped only by the Olympics.  When the Olympics are on, the rest of life is on hold.  Thankfully, technology has made it possible to record this event for more convenient viewing at your leisure.  Remember when we used to record TV programs on VHS tapes?  Raise your hand if you’ve ever accidentally recorded over something important when you reused one of those VHS tapes.  Yep, been there done that.  Thank goodness for DVR and TVO technology.  No more tears over taping “Steel Magnolias” over the Olympics…

So while my hubby was camping in the jungle with a team of college students, I was sitting comfortably on the couch at home watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics.  Now let me clarify, due to my likely case of latent adult ADD which prevents me from watching more than 15 minutes of TV at a time before I must get up and fold a load of laundry or mop the floor, I was watching snippets of the opening ceremony.  Let’s see.  I watched the parade of nations from Iran to Sudan and I watched Paul McCartney singing the chorus of “Hey Jude”… and that’s about it.  But it was enough to make me start thinking about Heaven.

Apparently, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking about Heaven.  But I spent the rest of the evening wondering if we will have a parade of nations in Heaven.  When we are all reunited with our God, I think there will be a parade.  Imagine this.  The Bible says that there will be believers from every tribe and nation from all times and eras.  Every people group will have a remnant to present to Jesus as His inheritance as the Son of God.  How proudly God will display His Saving Grace!  Every color of face, every language, every culture will be represented as we parade before the Heavenly audience of angels.  Imagine the applause as we cheer for our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord.  It’s a celebration that will cause the Olympics to pale in comparison!

I’m excited for that day!  On my blog, I get to see what countries readers come from.  Every morning I check and see if my 3 readers in Japan have checked in, my 5 readers in Thailand, my 6 from Costa Rica.  Whenever I see a new dot on the map, I get excited.  Today I had a new dot on United Arab Emirates!  Last week I had a new dot in Vietnam and one in Seychelles.  What fun!  Someday at the big parade in Heaven I might get to meet people who read my blog in far away countries.  Maybe I’ll get to play a part in bringing someone closer to Jesus through my blog, who knows!  God can use anything to draw people to Himself.  So I can’t wait to see all the Nations together praising God for saving them.  What a day that will be!

Going Home

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I chose this beautiful song for this Friday because it is a song that has very much defined my life of longing and searching for “Home”.   I long and pine and ache for my Heavenly home.  We are just sojourners here, we don’t belong here.  I’m not settling in here, I’m waiting to go Home.

Going Home

By Sara Groves

I’ve been feeling kind of restless.  I’ve been feeling out of place.  I can hear a distant singing, a song that I can’t write.  And it echoes in what I’m always trying to say.

There’s a feeling I can’t capture.  It’s always just a prayer away.  And I want to know the ending, things hoped for but not seen.  But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyways.

Of going home, I’ll meet you at the table.  Going home, I’ll meet you in the air.  And you are never too young to think about it.  Oh, I cannot wait to be home.

I’m confined by my senses, to really know what you are like.  You are more than I can fathom, and more than I can guess, and more than I can see with human sight.

But I have felt you with my spirit.  I have felt you fill this room.  And this is just an invitation.  Just a sample of the whole, and I cannot wait to be going home!

Going home, I’ll meet you at the table.  Going home, I’ll meet you in the air.  And you are never too young to think about it.  Oh, I cannot wait to be going- to be going home!

Face to face how can it be?  Face to face how can it be?  Face to face how can it?  ‘Cause this is just an invitation, just a sample of the whole.  And I cannot wait to be going home.

Longing for the Other Place: Guest Blogger

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This is a reblog of a blog that I personally follow.  As a matter of fact, it was written as a guest blog for Communicating across Boundaries last Sunday.  It is well written and touches on the theme that I will be writing about periodically for the next 2 weeks:  Homesickness and longing for Heaven.  This is Anne Alexander, Third Culture Kid (TCK) from Taiwan.

Yesterday I went to a funeral for a dear friend. It was a true celebration (the most joyful, Christ-honoring I’ve ever attended), but that couldn’t stop the tears, even in worship.

As funerals and farewells often do, this one brought up the pain of losing my brothers in childhood, and all the related pain of leaving relatives and friends on both sides of the ocean time after time after time. It brought up the longing for the ‘other place’, whichever one I wasn’t in, and the people I love around the world.

TCK lives are filled and colored with losses of all kinds.

Some of us stuff feelings really well for a long time (for me, until middle age), but some of us are blessed, unable to do so.

In the long run, the ‘expressers’ are less likely to develop physical or mental aberrations because ‘the truth must out’, and our pain is truth to us.

The angst the world feels because of the God-shaped, Heaven-shaped longings implanted when we were created for Him hums in their experience like an irritatingly loud refrigerator– sometimes softer, sometimes louder, but ultimately ignorable until the margins of our lives are used up.

As TCKs we live with less margin most of our lives, continually pushed into areas of growth, change and challenge. We may disguise the irritation and angst of being  between homes and Home, but we can’t hide it any more than a person with 3 arms can hide it under a 2-armed shirt.

Growing up, we’ve sampled more fulfillment and full-use of our potential, more of and varied pleasures and experiences, more pain and loss, than many of our passport-country friends do in an entire lifetime.

We are accustomed to adrenaline in traffic and true life-threatening experiences, to fox-hole friendships with those we work and worship with, to ‘relatives’ closer in spirit, purpose and faith than any blood relatives we could find in our passport country.

We have lived life without the bubble wrap, warfare without boxing gloves, and the exhilaration of seeing God come through when it really matters.  And we know it’s more than just making the next traffic light green so we can get to work on time.

Is it any wonder that we grieve the distancing from LIFE that sometimes seems to accompany return to our passport country? Is it any wonder that we long for friends and ‘relatives’ like those with whom we grew up, or worked with in our country of adoption?

Thank God for a word like ‘saudade’ that helps us express the inexpressible longing for that remembered world of discovery, friendship, growth and possibilities. We are not alone. And there will at last be a place where all potentials will be realized as they were meant to be.

But until then, my heart will go on singing (even if sometimes the minor key spirituals of hope);
But until then, with joy I’ll carry on (knowing that even if no one else understands, my Creator, Companion and Burden-bearer does)–
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me Home. (Until Then chorus by Ray Price)

And in the meantime, that third arm comes in handy for all kinds of tasks, like wiping the tears I sometimes can’t hide, or helping a friend in need.

Kindergarten in Mandarin was TCK Anne Alexander’s introduction to Taiwan, and for 44 years she has called Taiwan home. At present she’s teaching and researching Bible storytelling in Mandarin for a doctorate from Biola’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies. 

 

Don’t You Get It?

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Every year in my English class I make my students do an assignment with the verb “To Get”.  Rather than me explaining the thousands of uses of the verb, I make them research it on their own and report back to the class what they find.  (Look it up in the dictionary sometime and you’ll be shocked at all the ways we use the verb Get.)  One of my favorite uses is the phrase, “I don’t get it.”

Have you ever found yourself wandering aimlessly through life and thought, “Is this all there is?  Am I missing something here?”  I want to be sure that I “get it”.  I want to get it RIGHT and I want to get it ALL.  I want to squeeze every last drop out of life.  I want the Good Life- every ounce of it.

I have no doubt that someday I’ll be in heaven (so I know I got that part right).  But I don’t want God to say to me, “You didn’t get it.  You had all those years on Earth and you didn’t get it.  I was always with you.  I surrounded you with immeasurable beauty every single day.  I was calling to you every day.  I was trying to get your attention.  I wanted you to see me and admire my beauty.  I wanted to fill you up with my beauty, which would have made you so happy.  But you were too busy.  You were too focused on the pointless details.  You were too frustrated to look up.  I wanted to give you the Good Life, but your hands were already full.  I was trying to show you, but you didn’t get it.”

How many sunsets have I missed?  How many loving gazes have passed unnoticed?  How many times have I been looking down when I should have been looking up?  How many days have I spent scratching around in the dirt when I should have been soaring through the clouds?  How many times have I felt sheer joy rise up inside of me, threatening to swell and burst my heart, but I’ve pushed it back down again because I’m a grown up now?  Children never do that.

When a child is bursting with happiness she sings and dances with abandon, she squeals with giddiness, she claps her hands happily.  Her eyes shine with joy and her smile stretches from ear to ear.  Then what happens?  She runs into her Daddy’s arms and hugs him tight around the neck… she is thankful.  She “Gets It”.   She gets that the Good Life is a life full of thankfulness.

Thankfulness both causes and results from Joy.  It’s a beautiful chicken-and-the-egg cycle.  Noticing beauty makes me happy.  Happiness makes me thankful.  Expressing thankfulness makes me even happier- Joyful even.  And with that Joy I find even more beauty in the world, which makes me overflow with thankfulness.  I worship.  I wrap my arms around my Father’s neck and squeeze- extracting every last drop of Joy from life.  I get it.

Dissonance

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You know what really bothers me about being a missionary?  So much of daily life is taken up in doing ordinary daily living tasks.  It’s not like living on a missions trip.  People always glamorize missions life and think that we are always telling someone about Jesus, praying and fasting,  seeing great miracles, leading masses of people into the kingdom of God.  But it’s just not like that.

This last week I did absolutely nothing ministry related.  I stood in line for days and days at immigration.  I took my kids to the doctor’s office and the lab and the pharmacy.    I drove back and forth from home and school and gymnastics and soccer about 4 dozen times (it felt like).  I went to two of the five grocery stores that I normally shop at.  I bought two gifts for new babies and went to one baby-shower.  I cleaned my house several times.  I grounded my kids for fighting.  I helped my daughter finish a book report and memorize her Bible verse.  I washed countless loads of laundry and made 3 meals a day- except for yesterday when we went to lunch with friends and I made leftovers for dinner.

My point is, daily life is just so ordinary… no matter where you live.  I used to think that I’ll wait until I’m a grown up to do something big for God.  Or maybe when I’m a missionary then I’ll get my devotional life into some kind of regular pattern.  But if you don’t do it before your daily life takes over, it just won’t get done.  No matter where you live, life must be done daily.  That balancing act between Earthly and Heavenly is draining, straining, and complicated.  My heart wants to live every day in the Heavenly.   I long for my Heavenly home.  But my feet are here in the mud.  I’m grounded.  And it’s not glamorous.

Here I have the opportunity to give myself my usual pep talk and bring it back to a positive note.  But I think I’m just going to leave it on a note of dissonance because I still feel the discord between my body and spirit.  That’s just how it is sometimes.  Life doesn’t always have a pretty harmony.  And that bothers me.