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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And He Hears.

And I cry.

and try to convince myself that I am not alone.
Yet, I listen to the voice pull me further from my home.

I see my reflection and wish a shattered mirror.
I listen to my failures and focus on my error.

I try to hear Him in the wind and the rain;
turn my aching ear to hear His voice again.

I sing the songs, and I know the steps.
I’ve heard the sermons, my boxes are all checked.

But I’m empty and I hear no calming voice
I cover my ears to shut out my noise.

And He hears.

I heard your prayers. I see your tears.
You’ve never once danced alone.
I walked those paths, felt the rocky soil
of that place that you call home.

I’ve been alone, without a friend,
not one to heal my wounds.
I felt the sting of goodbye, the ache of hate,
the glares from across the room.

But, the only difference between you and I,
that piece that blinds your scope,
is the empty tomb I left behind;
the assurance of your eternal hope.

I hold those hands you lift in prayer
while I hold the sky above.
I’m in the wind and storms you feel.
I’m the ever present love.

You’ll never fit within that space.
That world is not your home.
My gift for you is on the path of grace
My Spirit won’t leave you alone.

I ache to show you your home above,
a home meant just for you.
I left this place of perfect love
to offer everyone another view.

I took on pain and guilt,
and carried all the shame.
My heart breaks alongside yours
as I think of every name.

But, I know it hurts.
and I know you’re tired.
I see you try and try.
I won’t walk away, won’t give up, won’t ever say goodbye.

So, lift your head to see the end.
Find your joy along the path.
Pain will come along your way,
but there’s purpose in each task.

I’m with you on your journey.
I’m with you on this road.
I’m in the dance you dance each day,
and I lighten every load.

Your journey doesn’t end there.
Focus on what’s to come.
Your journey ends right here with me,
where the sun never met a horizon.

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I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you.  ~2 Kings 20:5

 

Focused Fruit Prayer

fruitGracious Father, we want everyone to join you above;
Help us demonstrate to all your enduring love.
In good times and bad, whatever life employs,
Ignite us to light this dark world with constant joy.
Lord, give us the courage to be your mouthpiece.
Let us wage wars with love and aim only for peace.
Seeing each person as your precious creation,
We strive to respond to all with long-suffering and patience.
Sadly, we often suffer from selective blindness.
Guide us to those who desperately need our kindness.
The world examines us searching for contented fullness.
Let our lives and homes be solely adorned with goodness.
Even on days when our sins must be confessed,
Grant us perseverance to live a life of faithfulness.
The world be it broken and its people tremulous.
Allow us to reach them with truth and gentleness.
And finally, Lord, because we owe you our souls,
We willingly sacrifice ourselves and instead be self-controlled.

in Jesus name,

Amen.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. –Galatians 5:22-23

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/darren-williams/3668135143

Him.

forestBefore time began there was me.
The creation was witnessed by me.
The invention of you is perfect to me,
So in all you do, acknowledge me.
For all your blessings, thank me.
If you long for peace, seek me.
Whoever seeks will find me.
I am the way. Believe me.
Let go of you and cling to me.
Humble yourself. Glorify me.
Don’t fear those that kill. They already killed me.
I died so you can forever join me.
Fear what kills your soul. Trust me.
Keep my commandments. Commit to me.
When you love others, I know you love me.
And when you come together, you are with me.
Bow Down, look up. Worship me.
When darkness surrounds, look toward the light. That’s me.
I am the good shepherd follow me.
Silence your cell, your mind, and others. Listen to me.
You are loved by me.
You are forgiven because of me.
You are made perfect through me.
When you walk along, remember me.
When you see creation, remember me.
When you welcome new life, remember me.
When you say your last good-bye, remember me.
When you feel joy, remember me.
When you feel alone, remember me.
When all seems lost, remember me.
And when you take this bread and drink this cup, remember me.
Remember me.
And when all you are is forgotten, you’ll see me.

Don’t Make Me

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Lord, I love you, but don’t make me say so too loudly.
Lord, I love to sing praises to you, but don’t make me sing that old one.
Lord, I love your word, but don’t make me go to bible class and learn it.
Lord, I love all your children, but don’t make talk to that one.
Lord, I want to live for you, but don’t make me uncomfortable.
Lord, I want to be a Christian, but don’t make me look different than my peers.
Lord, I want you to provide for me, but don’t make me look at that homeless man.
Lord, I want everyone to go to heaven, but don’t make me tell anyone about you.
Lord, I want to pray to you, but don’t make me do it in public or when I’m busy.
Lord, I want to be with you, but don’t make me give up my life.
Lord, I want to be a part of your church, but don’t make me change my schedule.
Lord, I want you to forgive me, but don’t make me forgive them.
Lord, I believe you are more powerful than anything, but don’t make me obey.
Lord, I love you, but don’t make me love you too much.