Heaven’s Shadow

AN ANGEL OVERLOOKED

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This is an essay I wrote back in early 2013 that inspired the name of this blog. I am currently in the process of editing it to put a finer point on what I have since learned about the relationship of the church to the presence of God, so be sure to check back at a later date for an updated version.

As hard as we may try to keep that uninvited guest, Eschatology, locked outside of our homes and our lives, far removed from our daily thoughts and habits, alienated from our friendships and our conversations, he always has a way of creeping in again, peeking through the window at inopportune times, helping himself to the refrigerator, taking his seat at the dinner party among our friends and stirring up division by sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and intruding upon the seclusion of our private opinions and affections, subtly influencing even our speech, our music and our literature without our knowledge or consent, estranging and compartmentalizing Christians into peculiar interest-groups with difficult-to-remember names that end in “millennialism” and who hold each other in bitter contempt, forsaking their mission and unity in Christ for petty quarrels about non-essentials, something which is expressly condemned in scripture–so who let that guy in?

To be sure, he is not the sort to take a hint and move along his merry way. Clearly this bothersome fellow is in violation of the First Amendment and must be properly constrained and prosecuted or else the peace and unity of the entire Christian community is at stake.
Horribly divisive fellow.

“It was a good reminder to me that this world is not my home,” she said with a hint of a southern drawl. My young friend was speaking of a bad babysitting experience she’d had with some “worldly” neighbors.

“This is not my home.” I’ve said it dozens of times myself. I’ve sung it many more. Yet this time…this time it was different.

Maybe it was the way she said it–the tilt of her chin or the “beam me out of here, Jesus” toss of her head–that made me stop in my tracks. There was that uninvited guest again, whispering in my ear: “but where does that idea come from? Is this attitude Biblical? You know she got that idea from me, don’t you?” He chuckles, “ah, but even she doesn’t know that. Few people do.”

It would seem that Eschatology has little influence in the sweat and grit of everyday life–apart from instigating needless division in the church, of course–but perhaps that is because we are intimidated by his scholarly title and fail to look down his resume’ and see the numerous departments he has charge over, departments that interact directly with the common people, shaping their priorities and perceptions of reality whether they are aware of the charity or not.

So what is eschatology anyway? And what on earth (or in heaven) is the millennium and why should we care?

In his eye-opening book, “Heaven Misplaced”, Pastor Doug Wilson remarks:

“Many Christians want to avoid millennial wrangles, and in an important sense, they are quite right. It makes little sense to fight with one another about when the divine peace will come. But other Christians want to avoid debate on the subject because they believe it to be trivial or unimportant. “After all, is not the ‘millennium’ found only in chapter twenty of the book of Revelation, a notoriously difficult chapter in a notoriously difficult book? Shouldn’t we just walk away from it?” If we were limited to the word millennium, this might have some weight. But what happens when we consider the word kingdom?”[1]

Dr. Wilson goes on to say:

“A central duty of the Christian church is that of preaching the kingdom. And the kingdom of God is an immense subject–as great as the love of God, which is to say, as great as the gospel.”[2]

Our uninvited guest, that hated incendiary, holds a royal and prestigious office that we ought not, cannot, ignore.

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul declares that:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”[3]

“ALL scripture is profitable.” Why do we hasten to slap an exception clause onto the book of Revelation?

{Rev. 1:3} Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Are we to despise the Lord’s blessing and consider it “not worth our time” or “too divisive”–or will we embrace the words of prophecy, believing by faith that it IS a blessing, even when confusion and theological muddledness weighs heavy on our shoulders and the fog settles thick over our eyes, obscuring and distorting the words of prophecy into ill-defined blobs so that we cannot see the blessing? Do we read with eyes of faith or of unbelief?

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation [Greek: manifestation, the appearance; used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all] of Jesus Christ.
{1 Peter 1:13}

The Christian hope is anchored on Christ’s return. If we remove this anchor, the ship will be exposed to the ravishing wind, blown off course into the rocky crags and the whole vessel crushed and destroyed. But how are we to long for Christ’s return if we don’t know why He’s coming back or what He’s going to do when He gets here? It’s the greatest story ever told with the last chapter missing or worse…unread. What does that say of the book? Why, it’s the greatest insult an Author can receive!

I think I’ve always been a big superhero fan though never the comic-book reading type. I vividly remember as a child, sitting on the edge of my parents’ bed next to my then four-year old little brother and watching a marathon of superhero cartoons my grandfather had recorded for us on a VHS tape. We considered ourselves very high-tech having a “miniature” TV on a cart that we could roll into any room we wanted–provided it had an electrical outlet. I remember looking at my little brother at the end of our first episode of Superman. I didn’t need mind-reading super-powers to read the sparkle in his eyes and the grin that split his face in two because the same look was mirrored on my own face. “Let’s watch ANOTHER one!”

Corny as the episodes often were, there was something satisfying about watching that man with the blue suit and red cape fly across the screen and save the world from evil, darkness and mayhem once again, it touched something deep within our human nature, something so fundamental, so prevalent that the character continues to boast thousands of fans worldwide.

This should not be surprising, for what is art but the pushing onto canvas the colors of the human soul?

Whether it’s “save the penguins” environmental fanatics religiously watching the ozone layer, conservatives hiding out in a bomb shelter waiting for the Terrorists to fire their nukes, or economists hoarding guns and gold in anticipation of America’s collapse, 21st century culture is desperately concerned with the world’s trajectory as is poignantly revealed in the box-office hit films.

British actor Tom Hiddleston, renowned for his role as the villain “Loki” in The Avengers, remarks:

“In our increasingly secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocalyptic nightmares can be projected and played out.” [4]

The super-hero stories affirmed, among many things, that as bad as things often got, there was still something in the world that was worth saving. How many of us Christians actually believe that anymore? As I grew into adulthood and my knowledge of sin and the world deepened, I came to doubt the truth of those stories. I think this happens to most of us. There comes a time when we no longer hear the tinkling of the reindeer’s silver bell.

“Saving the world” was a genre that became blasé’, fantastical and pointless. As the villain unleashed his minions across the globe and the world descended into pandemonium I wondered, why bother? It’s all going to “burn anyway”–why not now? Is this Earth really worth the trouble to save…again? Growing up in the aftermath of 9/11 with “Terrorism! Terrorism! Terrorism!” ringing in my ears–I was tempted to shrug in response to my friends’ growing concerns and say, “well, the quicker we get this over with the better. Let’s get this show on the road!”

I wanted to cheer for the world’s heroes such as those who fought and died to end Hitler’s holocaust but their valiant efforts seemed to me like the proverbial “sweeping the decks of the Titanic”.

I think the opening scene of Disney-Pixar’s superhero film “The Incredibles” encapsulates this tension. In a series of interviews of the world’s top super-heroes, Mr. Incredible describes his perpetual, never-ending job of “saving the world”:

“No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!” [5]

Even as the audience laughed–as I laughed–there was a pang deep inside my soul, a wish for the impossible to be true, a wish that this world really could be saved forever, that the good wouldn’t be destroyed alongside the bad. Is there not to be a “there and back again”?

Or as good old Samwise Gamgee said in The Lord of the Rings:

Sam: It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for. [6]

I think that oftentimes we picture God’s redemptive plan as being like the rescue plan on the Titanic–the hull is punctured and beyond repair, the ship is going down in flames but Jesus came and died so He could snatch away a few in lifeboats (not a moment too soon, either).

The second law of thermodynamics teaches us that everything is in a state of constant decay. This truth is plainly visible to everyone yet the second part is not so much written on the sky as it is written as yearnings on our hearts: “unless acted upon by an outside energy.”

We do not live in a closed system. We do not live in a sterilized laboratory bubble, isolated and shielded from all outside forces, a specimen of mold destined to grow increasingly vile in its Petri dish under the unconcerned eye of a microscope.

Jesus, that other-worldly being, that life from another world, that outside energy, that yearned-for unless, intervened–He burst through the bubble and stepped into time and space with a mission that would shake the foundations of the universe.

Jesus didn’t come and die to rescue a few survivors of the sinking Titanic. The divine plan was not limited to providing an escape plan for a small group of people on the capsizing ship–in a profound sense, Jesus saved the ship.

“For God so loved…the world.”

“For in Him [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.”
{Col. 1:19-20, emphasis mine}

Christ is the long-looked for super-hero, the deity in human flesh, the God-Man who left the splendors of “Asgard” and became like one of us, in order to truly “save the world” once and for all, subjecting creation to the “pangs of Childbirth” in HOPE. As Luke demonstrates in the book of Acts, NOTHING can stand against the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not betrayal, not division in the church, not martyrdom, not the Jewish consul, not persecution by the Romans, not gladiators or lion’s jaws, not dispersion, not foreign languages, not political upheaval, not distance, space or time–NOTHING! Every knee WILL bow, every tongue WILL confess. The kingdom has come–we don’t advance the kingdom–we proclaim the Kingdom-come and the very gates of hell will not withstand the attack. Christ is reigning now and will continue to reign from Heaven until all his enemies lay prostrate at his feet.

“Have compassion,” I wanted to say to my world-weary babysitting friend, “they are in bondage, look on them with pity. Don’t give up on them. Don’t give up on this world–Christ says He will redeem it. Yes, “home” is where Jesus is but Heaven isn’t the solution to the world’s problem–Jesus is and He’s coming back to claim the Earth as His own. Please do not despise the world Jesus loved and died to save.”

Too many Christians–myself included–talk about Heaven as though it were our final destination. We refer to heaven as “our home”. We act like pearly-gates and harps in the clouds are the end of the story, as though “When We All Get To Heaven” is the final chapter in redemption’s drama. Yet WE WILL NOT LIVE IN HEAVEN FOR ETERNITY.

Dr. Russell Moore says:

Heaven is defined in Scripture as the dwelling place of God, a place inhabited by the angelic armies, the redeemed of all the ages, and the ascended Jesus himself as he awaits the consummation of his kingdom. At the moment of death, the believer is ushered into the presence of Christ in heaven. Since Jesus is now in heaven, this is where the inheritance of the church waits for us, where our mother, the heavenly Jerusalem, is located. Our inheritance, our Jerusalem, and even our Christ do not stay in heaven though–and neither do we. [7]

Mr. Wilson says:

“Many Christians believe the cosmos has an upper and lower story, with earth as the lower story and heaven as the upper story. You live the first chapters of your life here. Then you die, and you move upstairs to live with the nice people–because only nice people are allowed on the second story. There might be some kind of sequel after that, but is all kind of hazy. Maybe we all go live in the attic. [8]

“The problem is that this interim state has become our over-arching paradigm, replacing the biblical hope. The final biblical hope is heaven coming here…We look to heaven, not so much because that is where we are going in order to be finally saved, but because that is where our salvation is coming from.” [9]

Again, Dr. Moore says:

In Christian theology, the point of the gospel is not that believers should go to heaven when they die.  Instead, it is that heaven will come down, transforming and renewing the earth and the entire universe. After the millennium, the final judgment, and the condemnation of the lost, John sees a New Jerusalem coming down from the heavens to earth (Rev. 21:2)…Christians lay up treasures in heaven, but the treasure does not stay in heaven. Christians focus their minds on heaven, but heaven comes down to earth. [10]

We live in the “Shadowlands” as C.S. Lewis famously adapted the Platonic idea. If our whole lives have been spent in a cave watching shadows on the wall we will be tempted, like the dog in Aesop’s Fable, to snap at the reflection instead of the thing itself.

Although we must reject the gnostic dichotomy of matter and spirit we must still recognize that we live in an “already-not yet” tension, a dichotomy instead, of “seen” and “unseen”, a reality that is a dim reflection of what is to come, a shadow of truth in its purest and fullest form that will pass away when the shadow’s creator appears, the unseen taking the place of the previously seen.

But have you stopped to ponder what is causing the shadows and examine their size and shape? They cast some very strange shapes at times that are difficult to make sense of. We are not the only ones to marvel at these shadows. Abraham saw them too and left his homeland to chase the shadow of the promise to come.

Have you noticed that the birth-pangs have grown more intense, that the shadows are looming larger? Why are they larger? Logically, it must be because the object between us and the sun is drawing nearer. It is looming over our heads, filling the air with it’s tantalizing perfume–the perfume of what once was, of what was lost and of what will be. As J.R.R. Tolkein has said:

“We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of exile.” [11]

We are strangers and exiles on this Earth because we are caught between two realms, belonging like Dr. Spock–half-Vulcan and half-Human–fully to neither. Our souls long to return to the One who made them yet the dust within us, like the dust in Polly and Digory’s magic rings, draws us back to the world it came from. It is part of who we are as human beings, our split identity is the curse we bear. We live in Midgard, or “Middle Earth”, as the ancients called it, the world-between-worlds.

It has been said: “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

But by what authority do we redefine humanity? When we sin, we do not merely dishonor God in the same way that the stranger at the department store dishonors the woman behind him when he allows the door to slam shut in her face. When we sin, we blaspheme God’s image branded on us, we violate and misrepresent the humanity God created good like an ambassador speaking other than the words given to him to deliver. It is not in human nature to err but in corrupted human nature.

By extension, by what authority do we declare God’s good creation, the Earth, “evil”? Who are we, forgiven wretches, to declare something irredeemable? Will not the Earth, upon whom we brought a curse by our own transgression, also be finally liberated from corruption?

{Romans 8:19-22} For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (emphasis mine)

For some reason I’ve always thought of the “New Heavens and New Earth” as referring to Earth and the cosmos. I was aware of some strange beliefs Mormons and Jehovah’s Witness hold to about the New Earth but I never stopped to ponder what the Bible actually teaches. Jehovah’s Witness make a distinction between the New Earth and Heaven (where God abides) yet Revelation 22 does not set up the idea of us being on the New Earth and God remaining in Heaven with His angels. In fact, the Jewish conception of the cosmos included God’s abode (the third heaven). So when God says He will create a “new heavens” this includes Heaven itself.

Heaven: the dwelling place of God.

Where is Heaven? In no planet, supernova or galaxy in the whole universe can you find it. It exists in what scientists would call an “alternate dimension” or “parallel universe” and what storytellers have long-called another “world” or “realm”. [12]

When God walked with man in the garden, His footprints tied Heaven to Earth, linking them together as if by a bridge. When Adam ate, he destroyed the bridge, severed the two dimensions and plunged our world into darkness, Heaven withholding its light from the silent planet, leaving it alone and exiled in a hostile universe, driving a wedge between body and soul, separating at death what was never designed to be separated.

Glimpses and whispers of the other world came to the Silent Planet through chosen men of the covenant. Messengers from the lost realm came then vanished without a trace.

Enoch walked with God–then he was not. He was one of at least two men who left our dimension and passed through the “tesseract” of the ancient world into that long-lost Atlantis and never returned.

Elisha was given the gift of second-sight into the inner workings of this forgotten city and prayed the servant with him would have his eyes opened as well, that he may see the flaming chariots of fire surrounding them, that he might see the thousands of other-world beings that breathed beyond the veil, unknown and unseen.

Four hundred years of radio-dead silence

Then…
Heaven came down,
clothed in human flesh,
pierced through the wormhole;
the whispers becoming a Voice,
dispersing the shadows as it filled the earth with His light.

…but then the Light died,
died to reopen to mortals the bifröst-bridge to the unseen worlds.

But of course,
death could not hold him–you know the story though maybe not like this:
Christ’s resurrection three days later shattered the three realms
of Asgard, Midgard and Helheim to their very foundations.

Unless...”

The portal to the bifröst was flung wide open. While demons retreated, men from an unseen third realm, Helheim, or Hades, the land of the dead, crossed the bridge and terrified the people on the streets. After forty days Christ crossed the bifröst once more to ascend His father’s throne, casting a shadow behind Him as He passed but unforeseen by the ancients, the bridge remains, still warm from His touch, awaiting His final return.

Denied kingship of Heaven, the Accuser sought revenge on God’s good creation, he would love nothing more than to see Middle Earth—another Gotham—reduced to ashes. Is the Accuser to have the final victory? Is the spilled blood of Christ insufficient to stop the villain’s course?

We must never forget that though Jesus is presently in Heaven, He took on dust-immortal. He made earth-dust holy. He made Earth His home–which makes it in a way, our home still–and one day He will come back to her, purge her with fire and refine her like gold. But He will not utterly destroy her. How can He? He subjected the creation to the pangs of childbirth in hope. He promised her a child–will He give her a stillborn? God forbid!

But where is our home? Where do we belong? Can you hear the human heart singing with Hodel in The Fiddler on the Roof? [13]:

How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do, what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land
Far from the home I love?

Once I was happily content to be
As I was, where I was
Close to the people who are close to me
Here in the home I love…

Who could see that a man would come
Who would change the shapes of my dreams?
Helpless, now, I stand with him
Watching older dreams grow dim.
Oh, what a melancholy choice this is,
Wanting home, wanting him,
Closing my heart to every hope but his,
Leaving the home I love.

There where my heart has settled long ago,
I must go, I must go.
Who could imagine I’d be wand’ring so
Far from the home I love?

Yet, there with my love…
…I’m home.”

Or as modern-day Christian author and songwriter, Andrew Peterson, sings in “Lay Me Down”: “I’ll open up my eyes on the skies I’ve never known//In the place where I belong//And I’ll realize His love is just another word for Home.” [14]

Right now, Heaven is our home because that’s where “our Love” is.

American novelist and theologian, Frederick Buechner writes:

“I believe that the home we long for and belong to is finally where Christ is. I believe that home is Christ’s Kingdom, which exists both within us and among us as we wend our prodigal ways through the world in search of it.” [15]

Home is not so much a place, as it is a person.
“Home” is where Jesus is.

And He’s coming back.
One day He will return with all His angels and resurrected saints to make His final home here–it is this coming reality that is casting the shadow. Behold! the Son has risen, the day is at hand and we are living in Heaven’s shadow.

Life on the New Earth is not described in great detail, the descriptions in Revelation 21 & 22 conjuring more mystery and debate than they dispel. Like a Renaissance impressionist painter, God paints in broad strokes, leaving the texture of the leaves and the shape of the flowers to the imagination, our finite, yet-to-be-glorified minds being unable to comprehend the 4-D IMAX presentation the scene demands.

But the painting God does paint is of a New Heavens and Earth that are everything the first Earth failed to be. There will be both continuity and discontinuity between the old Earth and the new. Just as as we shall receive “new” and glorified bodies, these bodies being still recognizable as “us”, not an entirely new creation, so will the relationship between the old Earth and the new be, the New Earth being purged of all sin and corruption yet still meriting the title of “Earth”. If He is able to resurrect the dust of our bodies is He not able also to resurrect the dust of the Earth?

“Where is this, do you suppose?” Lucy Pevensie had asked after witnessing the apparent destruction of their beloved Narnia and passing through Aslan’s mysterious Door into an unknown country.

“If you ask me,” said Edmund, “it’s like somewhere in the Narnian world. Look at those mountains beyond ahead—and the big ice-mountains beyond them. Surely they’re rather like the mountains we used to see from Narnia, the ones up Westward beyond the Waterfall?”

“Yes, so they are,” said Peter. “Only these are bigger.”

“I don’t think those ones are so very like anything in Narnia,” said Lucy. “But look there.” She pointed Southward to their left, and everyone stopped and turned to look. “Those hills,” said Lucy, “the nice woody ones and the blue ones behind—aren’t they very like the Southern border of Narnia?”

“Like!” cried Edmund after a moment’s silence. “Why, they’re exactly like. Look there’s Mount Pire with his forked head, and there’s the pass into Archenland and everything!”

“And yet they’re not like,” said Lucy. “They’re different. They have more colors on them and they look further away than I remembered and they’re more…more…oh, I don’t know…”

“More like the real thing,” said the Lord Digory softly. [16]

Far from a ethereal and “floaty-place” as Mr. Wilson so “eloquently” put it, the New Earth will be a real place, where we will have real bodies, capable of enjoying the rich flavors of a feast and the sights and sounds of a new creation but to an extent not possible with our current fallen bodies.

Our state in heaven is incomplete because our bodies will have not yet been resurrected.
Our pilgrimage will not be over when we reach Heaven.

As good as the pleasures of this world are, we really don’t know what good food tastes like in comparison to what is to come; we don’t know what true, unmarred beauty looks like; we don’t know what it’s like to listen to a symphony with un-fallen ears, perhaps capable of a higher degree of sensitivity.

“The new [Narnia] was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if you ever get there you will know what I mean.

It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right forehoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: ‘I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!’” [17]

I am persuaded there will be waterfalls and green meadows, desert roses and surely, mountains on the New Earth and that it will be there, in the glorious New Heaven and New Earth where many of those beautiful Old Testament prophecies will have their full consummation. And we are it’s heirs, “according to promise”.

And yet, this is not our greatest inheritance.

As John Piper says:

“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there? …people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God.” [18]

When the New Earth is created Heaven will complete it’s descent to Earth and these two dimensions will converge and combine as ONE, the pillar of fire will fill the tabernacle [19], we shall enter the holy of holies and God will once again walk with man in the garden. [20]

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Rev. 22:3b, emphasis mine)

Ultimately, we do not go to Heaven, Heaven comes to us. As Mr. Wilson says, “The kingdom comes; the kingdom does not go.” [21]

We ache for what is lost and long for Paradise regained, a Paradise where God Himself lives with us. This is the mold our souls were created for, the harbor our ship is sailing towards. We stand at the edges of the flaming bifröst, the rainbow-bridge twinkling with stars beneath our feet as we await the King’s return when the God of love and thunder shall dissolve the bifröst with his pounding footsteps and bring all Asgard with Him to dwell on Middle Earth for the greatest happily-ever-after. [22]

As Andrew Peterson sings again [23]:

Now I can see the world is charged
It’s glimmering with promises
Written in a script of stars
Dripping from prophets’ lips

But still, my thirst is never slaked
I am hounded by a restlessness
Eaten by this endless ache
But still I will give thanks for this

‘Cause I can see it in the seas of wheat
I can feel it when the horses run
It’s howling in the snowy peaks
It’s blazing in the midnight sun

Just behind a veil of wind
A million angels waiting in the wings
A swirling storm of cherubim
Making ready for the Reckoning

Do you watch for Him? Does your heart race at the magnitude of this gospel-story? Does it give you chills? Does it make you feel small? Does it make you see the world differently?

Come, Lord Jesus, Come! –“all the more as we see the day drawing near”.

The best chapter is always the last. Only unlike the paperback thriller you picked up at the used book store, this last chapter never ends, you’ll never have to close the book and sigh because it’s over. Always “furthur up and further in”.

Do you now see our “uninvited guest” as an angel overlooked?
He is the fairy behind the iron mask if we look for him.
It is a blessing, it is a glorious thing to live in Heaven’s Shadow.

*************************************************

FOOTNOTES:
[1] Wilson, Douglas. Heaven Misplaced. p. 76
[2] Ibid.
[3] all scripture quotations taken from the ESV
[4] http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/avengers-star-tom-hiddleston-defends-super-hero-films-314615
[5] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317705/quotes
[6] (the movie) http://coolquotescollection.com/6128/it-s-like-in-the-great-stories-mr-frodo-the-ones-that-really-mattered-full-of
[7] http://www.russellmoore.com/2008/07/17/when-we-all-get-to-heaven/
[8] Douglas Wilson. Heaven Misplaced. p. 23 & 24
[9] Douglas Wilson. Heaven Misplaced. p. 21
[10] http://www.christianity.com/god/when-we-all-get-to-heaven-11597583.html
[11] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Humphrey Carpenter ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000) p. 110
[12] Never thought of it like that? God also happens to be the awesome-est “Science-fiction” writer ever! (Though I guess we’d have to call it “science-truth”)
[13] Far From the Home I Love (http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/fiddlerontheroof/farfromthehomeilove.htm)
[14] http://www.lyricstime.com/andrew-peterson-lay-me-down-lyrics.html
[15] Frederick Buechner. A Longing for Home from Secrets in the Dark – A Life in Sermons.
[16] C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle, (Book 7 in The Chronicles of Narnia), p. 193
[17] Ibid. p. 196
[18] John Piper. God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself
[19] this is a metaphor. I do not believe there will be a literal tabernacle in the new earth. [Rev. 22:22] The tabernacle of old was antitypical of God’s presence through Christ in the present age and on the New Earth in the age to come.
[20] Another metaphor, echoing back to Genesis when God “walked” with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
[21] http://dougwils.com/s7-engaging-the-culture/colonies-of-heavean.html
[22] hahaha, more metaphors (I use a lot of them!)—all references to Norse mythology.
[23] Don’t You Want to Thank Someone (http://www.songlyrics.com/andrew-peterson/don-t-you-want-to-thank-someone-lyrics/#YHHlZoLtTb1sqApz.99 )

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