The past week, I've been thinking a lot about Heaven. One week ago today our beautiful friend Vivienne was released from her courageous battle with brain cancer when Jesus came to take her home. She now joins the many, many other precious babies, including Poppy, who know what it like to be free from a body that is crippled with disease and who now are more alive than we will ever be this side of heaven. With this in mind, I want you to read the following verses from II Corinthians 5.
For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less. That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
I'm sure I've read that many times before, but when I read it this morning, it was like I was reading it for the first time. None of us, healthy or not, were made for this world, and no matter what the status of our personal fitness, these bodies we are in are shabby at best! But having to watch a baby fight against something like cancer or trisomy 18 or any number of other illnesses makes it crystal clear that there is something so much better that waits for us. And when I read that, I can't help but feel excited about what Poppy and Vivienne and all the others are already experiencing. We grieve only for our loss, and that is something I can live with. It is not easy, and it never will be, but as long as I have this promise, this absolute assurance, that what they have left behind doesn't even share comparison for what they are enjoying right now, I can rejoice for each of them!
If it weren't for that, I can tell you I wouldn't be able to wake up and move each morning. It would be impossible. Unbearable. But God hasn't asked us to do that. He has asked us to release these babies to Him, knowing that they are perfect, whole, living in His presence and experiencing what living really is. What we are living in is such a dim, murky shadow of LIFE, I think we wouldn't be able to stand our time here if we could taste what is in store. But there is a reason for our time here. We are here with such a specific, important purpose: to live in such a way that points others to Jesus and the Hope he gives us.
So in the end, thinking about Vivienne, thinking about Heaven, stirs a passion in me to live purposefully, not wasting the time we have here. It will be worth it when we are able to leave these tents behind, and put on something that exceeds what my imagination is capable of grasping. It is indeed what keeps us going.