Tag Archives: Heavenly City

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.

Sojourners Looking for a City

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The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.  It’s our handle on what we can’t see.  The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd…

Abel

Enoch

Noah

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home.  When he left he had no idea where he was going.  By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents.  Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise.  Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations- the City designed and built by God…

Abraham

Sarah

The promised son

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing.  How did they do it?  They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.  People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.  If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted.  But they were after a far better country than that- Heaven country.  You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them…

Abraham and Isaac

Jacob and Esau

Joseph and his sons

Moses

The Israelites at the parting of the Red Sea and marching around the walls of Jericho

Rahab and the spies

I count go on and on, but I’ve run out of time.  There are so many more- Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets… Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves.  They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies.  Women received their loved ones back from the dead.  There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better:  resurrection.  Others braved abuse and whips, and yes, chains and dungeons.  We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless- the world didn’t deserve them!- making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.  God had a better plan for us:  that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.

Hebrews 11- excerpts from the Message version of the Bible.