Have you ever performed in a choir, orchestra or wind ensemble? I have done all three. It’s exhilarating. There is nothing quite like the simultaneity of being surrounded by and creating music. The vibrations of tightly tuned harmonies, the pulsating hypnotic rhythms, the pathos, all combine to evoke euphoric delight.
Sadly, the rehearsals, performances, jam sessions, all come to an end. The gloriousness of the experience is inevitably tinged with sadness.
When I was fifteen years old, I went camping with two of my friends. We were on our way to Sequoia National Park, but we made a brief stop on the Central Coast in California. In a high school gym in Morro Bay, California, many fellow Christians had gathered to sing together. Over a thousand people were seated in a full circle around a central podium. The first song leader stepped up to the platform and began to lead everyone in the first song, “Our God, He is Alive.”
Never before, and never since, have I been surrounded by the sound of anything as beautiful as all those voices singing out in four-part a cappella harmony. The sheer volume took my breath away as my voice joined with those around me. No single voice stood out. It was as though we were one voice, united in praise to our awesome and powerful God.
It was a momentary taste, the palest glimpse, of what I imagine awaits us in heaven.
I cannot fathom what heaven will be like, but I imagine it will be unspeakable joy to stand in the presence of the Lord who has loved me forever. What a beautiful sight awaits us, surrounded by those who share in our love for the Lord, as we praise to Him beautiful, resonant harmony.
Life is chock-full of these momentary splashes of pleasure and delight, yet they never seem to sate us. We always crave something more.
C.S. Lewis said it best:
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.
Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.
If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.
I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (emphasis and breaks mine)
“Press on to that country, and… Help others to do the same.”
My purpose here at Elihu’s Corner is to encourage you to press on to know the Lord. Knowing your Creator will give greater joy than any other earthly experience. In fact, those joyful moments will be all the richer. Anything worth having demands effort. A relationship with God is worth every single minute of time and effort we invest in it. Living in such a way as to be with the Lord in heaven is worth every earthly sacrifice. Our small glimpses of heaven and the accompanying craving for more is not meant to harm us. It is intended to spur us on to what is purely perfect.
Several months ago, I had a discussion with a young man about the Christian life. He considered the phrase “enduring to the end” too miserable, so he always replaced the phrase with “enjoy to the end.” I’m not sure what my face reflected, but my heart twisted with sadness. I replied, as gently as I could manage, “What of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Paul, Peter, the early Christians and Jesus himself?” Did they “enjoy life” in the way we think of enjoyment? Many suffered repeatedly. Jeremiah didn’t enjoy being thrown in a pit or watching the Jews self-destruct. These people possessed the lasting joy of the Lord, not the passing pleasures of earth. They endured; I don’t exactly think they ‘enjoyed.'”
If we aim for earth, we will miss heaven. There is so much more to life than mere sensational enjoyment!
The Hebrew writer, when talking about the people of faith said,
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Are you a traveling foreigner or a citizen of the world? Do you seek pale imitations of joy or the lasting satisfaction of being in Christ?
It’s easy to get bogged down in the heartaches and pleasures of what we see, taste, touch, hear and feel. Don’t settle for what is easy. Press on to attain that which has value!
Paul wrote the following to the Philippians:
“…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way…”
We have something far better waiting for us than this life. We have a “why” to live for no matter how bad things get. We have a beautiful country waiting for us that is far better than what we see here. When you get those small tastes of heaven, give thanks and glorify the Lord.
We have hope. And the hope we have in Christ does NOT disappoint.
Press on to know the Lord.
Press on towards that far distant country.