The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Saturday, November 27, 2010

'Heaven' ( is it all in our 'heads'? ) Reconciling John 14

Can we experience 'Heaven on earth'? Certain songs that we like to sing on Sundays seem to say that we can: 'Heaven came down and glory filled my soul', is one such line. A cat purring in one's lap could make make one feel that 'all is right with the world', or witnessing the natural majesty of God's good creation on a quiet morning just after sunrise when no one else is around, a quiet moment between just you and God. Sometimes; 'Heaven' can be experienced when spending good, quality time with grandkids, friends and family, or just walking through a big city on a beautiful Fall day and witnessing the kindness of strangers. Whether one thinks that 'our time is now', that 'Heaven' is the Presence of God ( John 14:23 ), or that 'Heaven' is an actual 'place' that we will inherit upon physical death, there is one thing that we all can agree on; 'Heaven' is ( or will be ) experiential!

'Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven's table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
"Lord, plant my feet on higher ground."

This familiar refrain from the hymn 'Higher Ground' speaks longingly of a 'plane' where we can live above the doubts and fears that often assail us in this 'world'. Although fairly obviously a 'futurist' hymn, looking forward to a final rest in 'Heaven', songs like this, along with ''Tis heaven below, my Redeemer to know' from 'He is So Precious to Me', remind us that we experience 'Heaven', not just as some 'place' ( John 14:2 ) that we may hope to inherit 'some day', in the knowledge of God, and of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

'I'm living on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky.Praise God!
I'm drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry.
O yes! & I'm feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land.

The refrain from 'Dwelling in Beulah Land' seems to tell us too, that 'Heaven' is something that we can experience within this physical existence, while living on this earth, again, amidst the doubts and fears of everyday life, which, songs like these remind us, we can rise above, because of His Holy Spirit, dwelling within, through our knowledge of, and relation to God.

'Livin' on Canaan's side, Egypt behind
Crossed over Jordan wide, gladness to find.
My soul is satisfied, no longer blind,
Livin' with Jesus up in Canaan right now.

This chorus, from the hymn 'I'm living in Canaan Now' is another song that reminds us that 'Heaven' is not ( just? ) something that we will experience someday, when this ( physical ) life is over, but rather, is a joy that we presently experience, in the knowledge and peace of our God and Savior, Jesus the Christ! Another famous hymn, 'It is Glory Just To walk With Him', although looking forward to the day when we will walk with Him 'on heaven's golden shore', serves to remind us, again, that through our knowledge of Him, and walking in His path, following His commands ( John 14:23 ) we have that glory now, as we live in His presence 'Day by Day'.

Many have rested on Jesus' words in John 14:2 as indicative of this place that Jesus has prepared, or is preparing for us. Although this passage seems to plainly indicate that 'My Father's house', in which are many dwellings, is a 'place' to which He will take us someday; in the very next sentence, or, at the end of the paragraph, Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving momentarily to prepare this place for them, but that He would return to take them to Himself, that 'where I am, there you may be also'.The question must be asked here; 'where is Jesus?' According to many popular hymns; He is in our 'hearts'! John 14:23, like verse 17 ( 'He dwells with you and will be in you' ), in reference to the Holy Spirit of God, tells us that 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.' As we saw in the hymns above, and these are but a few of such, many hymn-writers of old seemed to realize this fact, but they failed to 'see' that this present reality was what Jesus had in mind here, and not some 'pie-in-the-sky' hereafter.

'Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.' That, as several of the songwriters above realized, is 'Heaven'! The peace that we can have through His Spirit dwelling in us, is how we can walk through this world that is full of doubts and fears, with a smile on our face, and joy in our 'hearts'! I say 'can have', because I believe that we often fail to remember that 'all things work together for good to those that love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose' ( Romans 8:28 ) and that, if we 'seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness'; we have everything we need, we have that 'peace of God which surpasses all understanding' ( Philippians 4:7 ( Isaiah 26:3 ).

Although many do not acknowledge, with others of us, that this 'place' that Jesus went to prepare for us was His own Presence, and that He has come again, in the 'form' of His Holy Spirit, to receive us unto Himself the fact remains that He has done so, just as He promised; as He promised, that 'where I am, there you may be also'. 'Where is Jesus?'; we are there also!

Glorying in this marvelous truth,
Charles Haddon Shank


Ward Fenley said...

Glorying in his presence with you, Charles. Thank you for this excellent the glory of God.

Charles Shank said...

Amen, brother; you're so welcome for the post; all praise and glory be to God!