Across the table from that guy.

beautiful christmas table setting
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Today I thought about heaven again. Most of the time when I dream of heaven I dream of a perfectly temperate place full of perfect flora and fauna perfumed with lilac and the occasional whiff of apple pie. I’ve never imagined inheriting a mansion. A cozy cottage happily situated in a wood is more my speed.

But today as I dreamed of the peace place promised to me, I imagined a banquet table loaded with delights like the world has never seen.  Those seated at the table surprised me, and I questioned my thought as one often questions how much grace God can offer sinners who don’t sin exactly like you do. I laughed at my own imagination.  Seated around the feast were the warring politicians of today all smiling and peaceful passing potatoes and the like. Right, Lord. Like those two would be at the same place enjoying each other’s company, here, in heaven. Right. Surely they are stopping that guy at the gate.

As I looked around the table I noted how each guest was a scoundrel while on earth; not one pure heart was represented among the lot.

Then I realized that I was sitting right there with them sharing turkey with the villains.

As I focused in on another face, it was someone who had deeply wounded me in the past. I’ve struggled to forgive this person. Forgiveness is work for some of us. Grudges are easy. But there he was, my adversary, enjoying the ambrosial banquet.

My adversary in heaven was stripped of his failures. His mistakes were no longer visible to my eyes. He was there, as was I, in perfect form whittled down to whom the Savior intended us to be, all love, all joy. And I loved him. And I knew God loved him. And I was humbled.

Back here on earth we have our separate corners. We have our own parties, our own people, our colors, our flags, our precious opinions and hills we die upon. But in the great beyond, there are no corners. There is one shared table, one shared Savior. Will we sit down with those who we’ve hated? Will we share dinner rolls with our murderers? I believe that is more our choice today than theirs.

In heaven, a perfectly normal scene could be an abortionist seated with the man who blew up the clinic.

In heaven, a Nazi sits comfortably with a Jew.

In heaven, your party is nothing. Your Savior is everything.

In heaven, the abusers and the abused share in the same divine helping of grace and a heaping dollop of mercy.

In heaven, forgiveness melts what tore us apart. Oh, how I wish we could share in that banquet now, where all is peace and joy and love. And I suppose if we cannot come to terms to eating with the villains and the saints, then we have another choice altogether.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

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Sweater Sin

img_1823I own a wool sweater.
I wear it everyday.
I’ve tried to remove it time and time again.
Yet, it stays.

I own a wool sweater.
It fits perfectly on me.
I suffocate and fall under it’s weight.
Chains bind the seams.

I own a wool sweater.
I knitted it myself.
The thread I chose is my hate, my jealousy,
And my lust for filth.

I own a wool sweater.
Unraveling at such slow pace.
Threads slowly fall to ground as I stretch
to touch that gift of grace.

I’m owned by a wool sweater.
That I knit and mend.
My sweater owns me.
I’ll wear it again and again.

I’m enslaved to my own creation;
though it slowly crushes my heart.
But, I’m comfortable in my cell, snuggled in;
Cozy in my art.

Save me from my sweater.
Save me from my sin.
Free me from this weight I wear,
and I’ll finally know heaven.

I long to rip it away.
I’d gladly shrug it off.
Save me, free me
from the weight of my self-inflicted cross.

His cross is the first hole.
His death is the first pull.
He rose and the sweater unravels for good.
My freedom now is full.

I owned a wool sweater.
He wore it just for me.
He bore the weight, my addiction.
And now I’m eternally free.

-cb