In the shadow of heaven

Part 1 – Place
On New Years Day, place was on my mind. It often strikes me that this world is not our home. The earth may very well be, since the Bible says there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but this world as we know it definitely is not.

Over the years, where God desires me to be in this world has come to matter little. It in not place that makes something “home” but rather the love that infuses it. The “Haven” in Korea was a tiny piece of home even though few people there knew me. Because of the love lived out by its people, it was still warm and welcoming every time I walked in, even after a five year absence. Mountain Ministries is a little bit of home in Colorado because of the love in that home and among those people. Even though individuals come and go over the years, still the atmosphere remains. Where I go with Sandi is home, whether it’s in our house or the trailer or a friend’s abode or a hotel room. With him, anywhere is a little piece of home because with him there is love. I suspect that is why Colorado feels like home to my heart. Standing in the vast beauty of its peaks and slopes, I feel the love of God surround me in a way that I experience it no where else in the world. I am familiar with these hills; they have spoken the wonder and the love of God to me in the past, and in those few quiet moments of solitude, they still do.

Someday the New Earth will be lit not by a sun, but by God Himself. His love will infuse the atmosphere of the New Earth. It will be everywhere, as will the love shared among the family of believers. So that the New Earth will be Home. All of it, not just a single place or city or town.

In the past I have for a moment pondered the concept that the New Earth might be “reality” while this earth is shadow. The more I mull over that idea while reading Scripture, and the more I study about Heaven, the more that concept rings true to me: that current spiritual realm, and the New Heaven and New Earth in the future, are real while we live a shadow here on Earth now.

As such, the threadbare blanket we call home now is a shadow of the thick, heavy, soft comforter that will be home someday. Shadows of someday fall all over our world now, not attached to geographical place or time, as love is not attached to place or time, so wherever God leads me on this earth will be Home for me because of His love.

Part 2 – Time
Since it was New Years Day, time was on my mind. Place and money intertwined with it. Somehow all three grouped themselves together in my mind like triplet puppies curled up in bed. In the background I hear Rich Mullins’ song “One Thing”: “Everybody I know says they need just one thing. What they really mean is they need just one thing more… You’re my One Thing.”

As I read “old, dead guys” in Devotional Classics for seminary last semester, I was struck by the single focus of many of them. I admit I scoffed a little bit because they frequently wrote from convents and monasteries, which in my blind prejudice seem to shelter a person from “real life”. And yet their ideas and experiences were so powerful in them that they overflowed onto paper even in a world without computers, were words had to be written longhand. As I ponder what they wrote, and continue to read the words of Scripture each morning, I am coming to realize that those old, dead folks are on to something. It is the same thing that Rich Mullins sang about in recent years: “You’re my One Thing.” It’s the same thing Matthew wrote about: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (6:33).

God is to be my one thing. He is to be my focus. Place is not important, because God’s Spirit is in me, everywhere I travel. Time is not important because God is eternal, and He works all things together for His good purposes, in His time. Even money is just another “thing” that falls under God’s jurisdiction. When I seek to know God, when I seek to love Him by obedience, all else falls into place. A shadow of Heaven, of the New Earth that is to come, falls across my path. In my tiny corner of this spiritual war, in the dust of this particular battle, I have peace that this is what God created me for. That is the shadow of Heaven.

God’s being my One Thing does not draw me toward a convent but rather out onto the start line for another triathlon, wearing a gold jersey inscribed with words like, “Why do you race?” and “Competing for Christ”. It draws me to read the Bible and biblically-based books each morning, and to ponder what I learn by writing. It draws me to do all things well, as if unto Christ because He is my primary audience. It draws me to live my life from my heart. Not guardedly or cautiously, but openly and vibrantly. It draws me to take the chance of failure or rejection, knowing that in the end God will succeed because He is God. What transpires may not look or feel like I expected, but in the end, He will accept me, not grudgingly or reluctantly, but with passion and joy. “He not only loves me; He LIKES me!” (Rich Mullins) He’s always got my back, and He’s more powerful than anyone or anything. No one and no thing will overpower or undermine Him. Ever.

When I seek approval from only Him, when I find all my comfort, all my confidence, all my motivation, all my strength in only Him, then He has become my One Thing. When all my doing ceases to be striving to please and springs rather from who I am And only then do I begin to become who I am, who God created me to be. Then I experience the reward, the peace, the passion, the joy, that my heart so longs for – because that is what He created me for – only to be His. Because He is a jealous God. My jealous lover. My One Thing.

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