Sitting in an audience of a few hundred people, I watched as my dad took the stage. His presence was undeniably influential, and this was obvious before he even spoke.
He entered with humility.
He walked on the stage with the underlying expression of “I’m in it with you.”
And that’s why people are drawn to him. Because he speaks from his heart. From his brokenness and his insufficiency. He speaks of the lessons he’s learned from a God much more powerful and wise than he.
He speaks from the trenches of humanity.
He walks with the sad and the broken. The hopeless. The defeated.
And he points them to a God who cares for people fanatically more than he ever could.
What really struck me this morning was more than his words about worry (the topic given to him by Cedar Creek Church), but instead was the 2 minute story he told that took place over 10 years ago. When God asked my dad to worship Him while he sat in a hospital room next to his daughter who was dying. A daughter he was helpless to save. My dad’s power had ended, and he could not fix this.
So he worshiped.
His will had been broken and his hopes were dashed. If relying on his own abilities, the future would have been absolutely bleak. So he turned outside of his circumstances and his understanding and praised a God who is bigger than he.
He charged into hell and brought heaven with him.
It’s moment’s like this that my heart overflows with gratitude. The darkest, hardest most awful moments of our life were not the end. No…they were just the beginning.
God took my dad’s brokenness turned worship, and gave him a stage. He took my dad’s love and obedience and gave him an audience.
And the worship continues.
What could have been the end…the end of our family. The end of our kindness. The end of our ability to connect with people was instead new beginnings.
He replaced our mourning with joy, and turned our sorrow into public praise. God continued to be faithful, even when 3 days after my dad’s full-on, unhindered worship in the hospital room ended with a phone call that she crashed. And this time, it was over.
Linette’s life on earth had come to an end, but her influence for the God she served with her whole life did not. The funeral in her honor that was packed out with more people than could fit inside the building were testimony to that. The end, but yet the beginning.
When our perspective has to reach outside of what’s right in front of us for any hope to be found. When we are met with disappointment and despair, and when life doesn’t work out the way we want to or expect. When moments where we should feel nothing but anger and depravity, yet somehow, we find an ounce of peace. A glimmer of hope. That maybe, just maybe, there’s something more.
Heaven on earth.
It’s when you meet someone with no earthly reason for the joy they are filled with. When someone is living for something that which they cannot see or touch or feel. But they believe it with their entire life.
It’s when the things that could break you turn into a search for something more.
It’s when you open up your home to someone and love them with the simple gift of hospitality. It’s when you sit with someone and listen to their heartache. It’s when you choose to sacrifice your time and talents and blessings to be a blessing to someone else.
It’s when the person in front of you in the drive through pays for your coffee.
Heaven on earth is being connected, physically and spiritually, with God and with people in a way that our sin seeks to destroy. When we sinned, we were separated from God. Removed from a connectivity we were created for. Hell on earth tells us that’s the way it will always be. Heaven on earth gives us hope some something more.
That through a God who loves us and sent His Son to sacrifice his life for us, that we can once again be connected.
“Times of happiness are glimpses of heaven until we get there. Homesickness doesn’t always feel sick. Sometimes it’s a quick flash of happy that makes us long to find and keep it.” -Beth Moore
Heaven on earth gives us hope for the journey. It connects us to the people around us in a way that our souls crave. It connects us to the promise that our present circumstances are not the end.
And that we were created for more.