Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Taste of Heaven

Every once in a while, when I am completely in the moment the Lord gives me a taste, a glimpse into heaven. There are really no words to describe the experience other than perhaps a large number of adjectives like amazing, awesome and most especially peaceful.

One of those moments came when I was with a couple of friends in Adoration before the Lord. We were praying together, singing a few songs, and pouring over the Scriptures. It was after a song we were singing about the trees reaching for heaven that my whole person was lifted there. I experienced this deep joy and peace that lasted until one of my friends finally gently tapped me on the shoulder to ask me what was happening! It was neat to share with them how the Lord had just opened the door to heaven for me and we were there together.

Of course, I have to ask Him why I have had these experiences and one answer always seems to stand out before all others is to encourage me.

There are many sides to the reasons behind His need to encourage me.

One reason is that at times I sit in a moment where I am so fully aware of my entire self, good and bad - especially the bad, that I have a hard time believing that heaven could really exist for the likes of me. In these moments I am completely naked inside and out before Him. He, and those around me, need to keep affirming that I am indeed loved and that the gifts that they give me indeed are real and true.

The above self perception comes from years of physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse by those who were supposed to love me and that I was supposed to trust, or those who were supposed to be my friends and that I was supposed to be able to trust. That self perception is completely distorted from the truth! Also, my experiences of heaven stand out in stark contrast with those experiences in the first twenty plus years of my life.

Another reason, and this one brings me to tears at times, is that He can be standing there with open arms in a mystical moment, or in the person of my wife, child, adoptive father, or others and I shrug them off. It is very difficult to accept love after being beaten up for so long. I am sure it is as difficult for Him as it is for my wife, child, father, and others to have to deal with me not fully accepting their love for me.

And the final reason, I have no concept of dying and what that means and entails. I am sure that we are all in this boat to some degree or other. Death indeed is a mystery and we are told that Jesus conquered death on the Cross, but it is still something that nags at the back of my mind. Tied into that is my fear of not being in the state of grace at that moment. This fear comes from the ongoing struggle with sin in my life. It is here, in pondering death (called eschatology - the study of the last things, death, judgment, heaven, purgatory, and hell) that I meet with the concrete need to make an act of faith. I have to believe in Jesus Christ's victory over sin, death, and Satan. This is the only way to conquer this fear.

It goes without saying that the Lord knows exactly what we need and when we need it. The tastes of heaven always seem to come at a time just when I need some affirmation and encouragement from Him.

Jesus, I thank you for blessing me with these moments, for the wisdom and understanding that You bring to me in them, and for Your encouragement.

Pax vobis,


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