What makes heaven, heaven?

There are, no doubt, many answers to this question, all of them true to some degree. Obviously we cannot fully comprehend the gloriousness of heaven in this life, but there was one thing that struck me today, a fragment of the answer, that I found quite profound.

I was praying through the Lord’s prayer and paused at the line “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” One of the things that makes heaven, heaven, is that God’s will is always done there.

It is impossible that a by-product of God’s will could be a state of hellishness. The execution of His will must, as a reflection of His nature, lead increasingly to a state of heavenly greatness and perfection.

It is important to note that this certainly does not mean that, on this broken and corrupted earth, it is never God’s will that we should suffer. That is clearly not true; He willed that His own Son should suffer. What it does mean though, is that any suffering that is a part of his will, is only so, because of the deeper, greater, more wonderful good that it can achieve.

If God’s will is always done in heaven, and if indeed that is one of the things that truly makes heaven, heaven, then I must be careful never to balk at his will on earth, no matter how challenging it may seem in the present moment.

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What if God hadn’t told us what happens after death?

corridor-sky--hallway_19-104567My Nanna died last week. She was old, and it was not unexpected, but still the quiet, grey cloud of grief has hung over me.

On the evening after her funeral I sat quietly at home, not sure what to do with myself. I read my Bible and just sat, feeling sad.

After a while I looked at my heater, glowing red and warm and I felt suddenly grateful. I knelt on the floor and thanked God. For the heater and for the many other blessings in my life, including my Nanna: who she was, and how long she was given to me. Not everyone gets their Nanna for 29 years.

I thanked God for looking after her, even now. For cherishing her soul and filling her with joy. I thanked God that I could trust Him with her.

Suddenly I realized something deeper to be thankful for: God’s revelation of the mystery of life after death. If He’d said nothing about life beyond the grave, he could still be trusted. Heaven would be real whether we knew of it or not. God would still be good, even in His silence. But He is not silent, and what comfort that brings us

I don’t blindly trust God with my Nanna, I trust him having been told exactly what will happen to her. Death will have no victory; she will be raised and given a new, imperishable body. This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

I’ve got 99 problems…

IMG_603953887545918Unfortunately this meme is too often reminiscent of my life. In fact lately, I’ve come face-to-face with the fact that when my life feels like it’s spinning out of control, it’s usually mostly in my head.

Now my head is a very real and complex place, so it’s not like that realization suddenly solves all my problems, but it does help to put some things in perspective. It also helps to find my solution.

See I might have 99 problems, but I have one solution.

When I don’t understand myself or I’m anxious about other people or I can’t seem to control my circumstances, there is one place that is my quiet eye in the storm. There is one place where I’m the most real version of me; a place where the crazy woman with her 99 made up problems fades away.

When I’m alone, on my floor, with my Bible.

When I’m reading the words of my Anchor within the veil and remembering that I was not made, primarily, for here.

It’s a comforting thought to know that the wild, heady confusion has a resting place.

Should we teach our kids to ‘grow’ the fruits of the Spirit?

out-in-the-fall-3_21264535This is a question that I’ve given some thought to, but am yet to come up with an answer for.

As Christian parents (I’m not one, but they do say it takes a village to raise a child) it is our responsibility to raise our children with moral values and a fear of the Lord. Few would dispute that, but how far do we take it?

As a child, I learnt all about the fruits of the Spirit. There were diagrams and songs and colouring in sheets; juicy apples and pears and bananas all with a word attached: love, joy, peace…

These were all character traits that we knew we were to cultivate, but as an adult I can’t help wondering… have we missed the point?

Are fruits of the Spirit things that can be taught, or are they traits that grow in us purely as a result of the Spirit?

If we teach our children to exhibit these things, are we wisely training them in the way they should go, or are we creating little people who know how to look good on the outside, but whose hearts have not been changed?

Is it our moral responsibility to reward them for ‘Spirit filled’ behaviour and discipline them for ‘fleshly behaviour,’ or should we be focusing on teaching them the Gospel and letting the Spirit grow this fruit?

I’m really not sure. What are your thoughts?

Ducks Don’t Need Satellites

smallThere’s a song I really like by Kate Miller-Heidke called ‘Ducks Don’t Need Satellites.’ Weird name for a song I know, and the lyrics don’t do much to redeem it from obscurity, but despite that, or maybe because of it, it really resonates with me.

She croons that ‘ducks don’t need satellites… they probably don’t know they’re up there… they most likely think the sky ends blue.’

When I need to pray about something that is really weighing on me, I take a walk down by the river near my house. I sit on a footbridge and look out at the water and the trees and the ever-present ducks.

While my life is in turmoil, theirs never is. They are not bored, or lazy; they’re busy but it’s a calm rhythmic type of busy. I look at them, and I wonder if, somewhere in the simplicity of their minds, they believe in God

Matthew 6 says  to ‘look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.’

I feel a sense of calm as I look at the ducks, who are provided for daily by a God they likely have no capacity to conceive of. I see the trees which stand tall and strong, roots deep in the earth, nourished by a system set up by their creator… and it makes me wonder if we might be better off if we didn’t need satellites either.

When God Takes Away

138261Some time ago, I posted one of my favourite segments from the book Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss. This has been a hugely influential book in my life, and I’d like to share another section that I copied out into my diary several years ago.

‘God does nothing arbitrary. If He takes away your health, for example, it is because He has some reason for doing so; and this is true of everything you value; and if you have real faith in Him, you will not insist on knowing the reason. If you find, in the course of daily events, that your self-consecration was not perfect – that is, that your will revolts at His will – do not be discouraged, but fly to your saviour and stay in His presence until you obtain the spirit in which He cried “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: Nevertheless not my will but Yours be done.”(Luke 22:42)

Every time you do this it will be easier to do it; every such consent to suffer will bring you nearer and nearer to Him; and in this nearness to Him you will find such peace, such blessed, sweet peace as will make your life infinitely happy, no matter what may be its mere outside condition.’

I hope this inspires convicts and fills you with hope in the way in which it did for me. I can attest to the truth of these words. Our God is faithful. He does nothing arbitrary.