I once had a vision. It was in that pre-dawn moment where you’re still asleep but awakening is just around the corner. I was walking down a dirt road with Jesus, and he was teaching me and comforting me. The terrain was barren and scrubby, but there was a Joshua tree just beside the road. I felt myself coming up out of the dream, and I began to weep and panic. “I don’t want to go! I want to stay here with You!”
He said, “Go ahead, it’s alright. I’m coming with you!”
His eyes were so gentle. His presence was so real and tangible. Waking up that morning felt a little like dying.
Sunday morning, we sang about the identity God alone can give us. We sang of having eternity to sing His praises, and of how he reached into our Egypt (our overwhelming and seemingly impossible circumstances) and carried us out. Finally, we sang about the love our God—the same One who created the universe—has for us.
As humans, we’re pretty easily distracted. Our attention spans are short, and there’s a lot to see and hear and think about when we’re standing there on a Sunday morning (or any time we try to meditate on Him, for that matter). But sometimes, He’ll grab you by the chin and force you to look Him in the eyes. “Hey! Look at me! I’m talking to you; I’m holding you. I’m here with you right now.”
‘Cause You stepped into my EgyptFrom Egypt, by Bethel Music & Cory Asbury
And You took me by the hand
And You marched me out in freedom
Into the promised land
And now I will not forget You
I’ll sing of all You’ve done
Death is swallowed up forever
By the fury of Your love
As I stood with my hands raised to heaven, I felt the tangible warmth of His hand wrapped around mine. I felt His hand move to my cheek in a gentle, fatherly caress. “I know you, daughter. I know how much you long to be here with Me. For now, I’m there with you.”
My soul is in deep anguish.Psalm 6:3, NIV
How long, Lord, how long?
This tangible experience of His presence is so sweet and comforting, but it can’t help but awaken in my heart the longing for heaven—to no longer see His face dimly, as through a mirror, but in the fullness of His glory.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV
When I married my husband, Alan, my daughter E was about to turn five years old. She was our flower girl, but she had a greater part in the wedding. E had her own little bouquet, and as she began to walk down the aisle, she walked like a little bride. But then Alan knelt down, and she made eye contact with him. She couldn’t walk solemnly anymore; she ran to him and jumped into his arms.
Alan and E made vows to one another at that wedding. He promised to treat her as his own, to love her as her father, and to rear her as the Lord requires. She promised to love him back and to respect him as her father. In that moment, Alan claimed her as his own. Although she has another dad—her “real dad,” as most would say—she and Alan have kept to their vows. Now that she’s a teenager, we have had our moments of frustration, but her love for Alan has never diminished, nor has his love for her. And she knows, without a doubt, that she belongs to him.
There will be a moment when you are walking solemnly into heaven, likely with a crowd. You may step around a corner and see Jesus standing there, looking you in the eye. At least, this is how it plays out in my imagination. In that moment, I imagine running into His arms and weeping with joy. I imagine His face looking like Alan’s in that picture—the joy and satisfaction of wrapping His sister-daughter in His arms and affirming that she belongs to Him.
There is a lament in our hearts here on earth. It isn’t that we want to die so we can hurry up and get to heaven. But we know that we are citizens of His Kingdom, living on earth in a culture that is not our own, as ambassadors for Him. While we have ready, constant access to the Throne of Grace, it still can feel like we only get to see Him dimly, as through a fogged mirror. But one day…. oh, what a day….
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