I was watching Ellen on TV a few days ago. I love her. She is so stinking funny. She is generous and entertaining. She appreciates great music and makes people smile. On the show I watched as she surprised an unsuspecting family from the audience struggling financially with $30,000 worth of amazing gifts. The family wept, the audience cheered, jumping up and down, truly celebrating the moment with the deserving family. I felt myself caught up in the excitement too and while smiling ear to ear saw my hubby across the room with the same look on his face.
Then it hit me, like a bolder being thrown from the moon onto my head. We celebrate our stuff. We glory in our jobs and our homes, cars, and toys. We work hard to pay for our vacations and technology. We cheer loudly when people are gifted with things beyond their wildest dreams. For the family on Ellen. For a woman who wins the lottery. A young couple winning a car on a game show. A man who is reunited with a beloved car he had as a teen. It makes us happy to see people get the things they really want.
But what if what we really want we’ve lost sight of altogether? What if it’s beyond our ability to see over the things that have accumulated around us?
I miss Grace. More than anything I can describe. The experience of grief is like a volcano. It burns hot and is boiling, spitting, and moving beneath the surface of my external body which appears from the outside to be stable. At unexpected times grief bursts out, spilling over me along with the tears of longing. It hurts. It burns me and reshapes who I am as the molten lava cools. I can’t predict it any more than I can control it. I want it to be over. I want it to stop.
Someone told me recently she knew someone who “went crazy” after her son had died. Without hope I can understand how easily that could happen. But I do not mourn like those with no hope. That is what gets me from one day to the next in the midst of the burning pain of loosing her. On the other side of this life there is another. I am as confident of this as the truth of waters ability to be frozen into ice. It looks and feels different, but it goes on. It takes another form.
Heaven is a promise. That promise holds my little girl, my best friend, and many others who I love so very much. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on lately about heaven. It’s safe to say that my heart wanders there often. Dreaming of what the promise of heaven holds, not in terms of a dreamland of self-fulfillment, but of the fulfillment of God’s perfect plan. To be everything God created me to be but fell so short of here on earth. To indulge not in the glories of heaven but in the maker of it all. To experience the greatest reunion of them all.
The family on Ellen will love the stuff they got. It will make them happy for awhile and may help relieve some of their financial strain for a time. But like every thing in this world, it will all eventually break and fade and end up in a junkyard somewhere. The people in the story aren’t junk though. They are beautiful creatures made in the very image of God. They are pursued with passion by Jesus Christ. He bought them on a cross to give them the gift they truly desire. Whether they know it or not (and I pray they already do), heaven is the only gift that keeps on giving, and it’s only a gift Jesus has the ability to give away. It is his alone to hold. The same love that kept him on a cross is the same love that offers heaven’s promise to us today. Acceptance of the gift is required. The price has been paid but there is still a choice to be made. If you haven’t ever accepted the gift Jesus offers, say a prayer today. It isn’t given to perfect people, it’s given to humans. None of us is good enough to get in on our own. More than anything else in the world what I want is to have you there with me. I will jump and cheer and high five everyone I know to hear you got what you really wanted.