A Picture of Heaven
A few weeks ago, I was asked to play at a wedding. The bride and soloist had chosen a couple of songs, one of which drew a strong analogy between lovers in love and heaven - specifically the idea that lying in your lover’s arms is heaven. I didn’t know how to respond to that.
Part of me wanted to rise up in righteous indignation and denounce the very concept as a low view of heaven - something that was unworthy to contemplate. Lovers entwined in physical embrace as a picture of heaven seemed, somehow, unworthy. Since the wedding was still several days away, I had time to think. And the more I thought about it the more convinced I became that this image is quite all right.
We have to start with the understanding that we were created for connection with God and that sin disturbed that connection – indeed sin broke the connection – and that consequently we are on a life long search for reconnection. With this in mind, the concept of lovers lying in each others arms is a reasonably good picture, albeit a rather graphic and perhaps disconcerting picture but a picture none the less, of heaven.
What we see at the emotional level in lovers is total acceptance, unrestrained expression and utter devotion to the other. That sounds quite a bit like heaven to me.
Within days of my first exposure to this music, I heard a silver haired preacher, a man of great love for God, dignity and passion speak of his own desire for heaven. He held it out as the ultimate goal of his very existence. He didn’t talk about a place. He didn’t talk about mansions or streets of gold or the crystal sea. He didn’t talk about his beloved friends and relatives who had gone on before him (and, at his age, many had). Instead, he talked about his great desire to be united with Jesus.
He spoke specifically of acceptance and how he expected to see his Lord, greet him in glory with arms outstretched ready to embrace him. He also spoke of his own desire to express, face to face, the gratitude and love that was in his heart – love which he knew he had only feebly expressed during his life. He spoke of what it would be like to be able to fully express the devotion that he felt in his heart to the Lord and at the same time to be able to receive the Saviour’s expression of love in a way that, at this point, he could only guess at.
It was ironic to me that the song and the sermon came together in my experience within a few days of each other. They have coloured my thought about heaven. Certainly to limit one’s view of heaven to a lovers’ embrace (particularly if it is a casual, sexual embrace) is unworthy. But when we look at what the depth of an embrace can mean – the significance behind it – a air of legitimacy arises.
When I think of acceptance without reservation, expression of love in all its fullness, and utter devotion to the other, that is good enough for me. I can’t imagine anything more meaningful, satisfying, comforting, enriching, affirming or more real. It is a good enough picture of heaven to keep me going.
So she’ll sing the song, I’ll play the piano and whatever anybody else is thinking, I’ll be thinking about the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.
© May 2007