January 26, 2012

The End of My Story {revisited}

I wrote the following in a journal just over ten years ago. The Lord brought it to mind this morning. I was emerging into a new freedom, a fresh understanding of God's unconditional love and grace for me when I wrote about heaven so many years ago. Thinking of the end (that really is a beginning) is where I need to be today.

If I remember correctly, this story was written in response to a journal prompt from the book, The Sacred Romance. Time has blurred the details of just why I wrote this story. I certainly realize that I don't get to choose how life will play out in the end, but still I dream into the future, into eternity. And I remember the One who is preparing my place---a place far beyond my wildest dreams.

When I write stories, I tend to struggle with endings. The story I dreamt of ten years ago is the truly the never ending story. To me that is the most beautiful part...

“The End of My Story”

Even though I know the days of my life were numbered before there was yet one of them, the ending I would choose to the story of my life would be to live with a healthy body and healthy mind into old age. In the mirror I would see wrinkled skin, and mousy hair, but in my heart I would feel as young and hopeful about the future as I did at twenty-five, my favorite year as I recall.

On a beautiful summer evening, I would go to bed after a day of visiting with family and friends, enjoying my grandkids, telling stories about my childhood, my days as a young mother, and my empty-nest years spent with Jeff fishing and traveling, and seeing the world. I would slip into sheets softened by years of wear and washing, and go to sleep. The next morning I would wake up in heaven.

Upon my awakening, I would rub my eyes and pinch myself. Then, from deep within would well up in me the incredible, unstoppable desire to shout with a loud voice, “PRAISE BE TO MY SAVIOR, THE LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.” I would be complete in joy and I would immediately begin to look so that I might see---see His face, this dear Friend who I have sought to know and love.  For all my earthly life, I longed to see His face with my own eyes. 

A Light draws my attention and there He is. Our eyes meet. In those blazing eyes, I behold his joy for me as He welcomes me to the place He prepared for especially for me.

There is no sense of urgency about what to do now that I’m in heaven. The reality of eternity settled upon me gently like an evening dew.

Still, my Savior bids me, “Come.”

He hands me a white stone. “Here is your name.” Turning it over, I see it on it a name etched on the stone. I know the name, and more incredible is that I understand why the name was given to me. How gracious is my God! I don’t deserve this gift, this name, this eternal life---but there is no guilt, no shame. I come to full knowledge that apart from Christ I could not be in His Presence. I could not have a place in the glorious home of love completed, the place called Heaven.

Breathing deep, I truly begin abiding there. I look down, notice my clothes. They are royal clothes. I’m clothed for a wedding party and I am the bride beautifully adorned in white.

Suddenly, I am swept away to a wedding unlike any I had known on earth. The celebration had begun long before I arrived. As I enter the Grand Hall, suddenly, I am encircled by people I know---by people I love. They are celebrating the wedding of the Bridegroom and me. What joy we all share! All sorrows we have ever shared have fled; all things are truly new.

The Bridegroom comes for me, grabs me by the hand and takes me to my dwelling place.  He calls me by my new name. His voice is both strong and tender at the same time.

“Settle in,” He says, “the story of your life has really just begun. Now you will live as you were created to live. There is no night, no darkness, so LIVE, LIVE, and LIVE again. What’s mine is yours.  I’ve always wanted you to have it.  So LIVE.”

So I began a journey of living---of tasting the most savory and sweet things from the banquet table, and seeing beauty in the light of Christ in a creation once again subject to mankind, of hearing songs in a tongues different from my earthly language but understanding and singing still the same---with abandon to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I touch the cool water of the River of Life and dip into my hand its sweetness, drink long. The delicious aroma of the prayers of the saints fills the air as incense rises to the throne of God.

I have come to heaven my true home. All the questions I thought I would ask, all the mysteries from the other side, seem trivial. Instead of looking for answers, the deep longing and desires I knew from birth, the desire to be who I was intended to be, overwhelm my heart. Those desires cause heaven and all it holds to stretch out before me as a glorious adventure waiting to unfold.

I am so very grateful. How could it be that Jesus left this place to come to corrupted Earth to die in agony so that I could be here? 

I know the answer. It resonates in all I see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. It is LOVE.

God is love and in Him there is no darkness at all. Love rescued me from myself and from the judgment that would have separated me from God forever. Love was nailed to a cross, buried, and was resurrected. He conquered death so that I could live. I was a sinner, but love did not let me perish.

So I settle in to dreams come true… to happily ever after in my forever home…the place called heaven.
                        
“Behold, (He has made) all things new."

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