Tag Archives: faith

Why Long for Heaven?

I often think that the whole “heaven” thing is just weird.  Do you?  I can’t imagine it.  My life can get really busy and I have so much I still want to accomplish.  The idea of sitting on a cloud and singing for a thousand years doesn’t exactly appeal to me.  At times I find myself wondering if we’ve made the whole thing up.  My feelings about heaven don’t mean I don’t believe in God and want to honor Him with my life.  I just don’t really concern myself too much with the afterlife.  I know my life sucks without God directing it, so I’ve submitted to His direction.  But that’s all about my life.  Not my afterlife.

In my daily devotions last week, there was a part in there about heaven.  I felt a little guilty for my attitude, so I whispered a quick prayer.  “God, please change my heart.  It’s not that I don’t want to see YOU face to face, it’s just that I don’t understand why I should long to be there rather than working for You here.”

A few days later I heard a statement that struck me as strange.  It was something like, “In heaven we will no longer need self-discipline.”  Huh?  No self-discipline?  Well, that’s just sin.  Isn’t it?

I thought about it for a while and realized – it’s true.  As Christians, much of our energy and effort is taken up in self-discipline.  We guard our hearts.  We discipline our eyes (be careful little eyes what you see), we discipline our ears (be careful little ears what you hear), and we hold ourselves back from going places we don’t need to go (be careful little feet where you go).  We fast, denying ourselves the pleasure of food or TV for a time in order to purify ourselves.  We stop ourselves from pursuing inappropriate sexual relationships.  We feed on God’s Word in order to keep our hearts and minds pure.  We’re careful about what we say – not claiming defeat or negativity, not gossiping, encouraging one another.  As Christians, we spend a big portion of our time disciplining our sinful nature and trying to rise above it.  Hopefully we get so used to it that it becomes second nature to us.  But nevertheless, we are in a battle every day – a battle against ourselves.

In heaven, there will be no need for self-discipline.  We will be like God and our sinful desires will be gone.  Whatever we desire, we can do or have.  All our desires will be holy and pure.  There will be no more restraining ourselves, holding ourselves back.  We will just be able to BE. 

Imagine that.

And I told God I’d rather fight the battle against myself every single day in order to accomplish what I think He still has for me to do, than go to heaven and be with Him for eternity???

While there is still much that I want to accomplish in my lifetime and I have no desire to leave this earth at a young age, the peace and freedom God promises us in the afterlife are almost too much for me to comprehend.  The joy of it blows me away. 

I know that it’s a weird concept and very difficult to wrap our minds around.  We cannot comprehend what we have not seen.  And yet, that is the mystery of faith.  We believe, even though we cannot see.  We trust, even though our trust may be misplaced.  We choose to follow this path and see where it takes us. 

I am aware that it’s possible all this God stuff is made up.  But I also know what He has done for me.  I know the peace and joy He has given me.  I remember that He parted the Red Sea, He raised the dead, He calmed the wind and the waves, He walked on water, and he healed me.  This God I serve is worth facing my fears of foolishness.  He is worth facing my doubts.  He is worth giving up everything.  And I look forward to the day I see Him face to face and feel the total peace and rest of no longer fighting against all the evil that my human soul is prone to pursue.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
by Robert Robinson and John Wyeth

…Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace…

Is there anything that makes you long for heaven?

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You want HOW MANY children?

Last night I was watching “18 Kids and Counting” – a TLC show about the Duggar family who have 18 children and are pregnant with their 19th.  All of the children are from the same parents and appear to be healthy, normal, and happy.  Their oldest son got married at 20 years old and he and his wife announced their own pregnancy within a few months.  Their child was just born, a few months before Michelle’s 19th child is due.  They are thrilled with all these children and believe they are a blessing from the Lord.  They don’t believe in birth control of any kind and feel that if they leave it totally up to the Lord, He will give them the number of children they need and nothing more than they can handle. 

When this show first came out, I watched it out of curiosity – judging them in my heart and feeling sorry for their poor children.  I felt it was a ludicrous concept and that Michelle Duggar was endangering her own health and the well-being of her children.  I was certain that many children would make it impossible for the parents to know each child and give the proper amount of attention to each one.  And I can’t forget to mention that they home school their children, the girls all wear skirts or dresses, they don’t watch television, and they have a home church.  I think all those things can make a family a little weird; however, every time I watched the show, something stirred in my heart and I found myself watching it the next week as well.  I now record it every week so I don’t miss anything. 

Surprisingly, I’ve found the Duggars to be one of the most sincere and healthy families I’ve ever encountered.  I know it’s a television show and they can edit out whatever they don’t want shown, but this family truly appears to get along with one another, to be well-educated and entrepreneurial, hard-working, creative, and sincere in their love for the Lord and their study of His word.  When asked to explain their unusual beliefs, they often say that this is the conviction of their family and not something they expect everyone else to do. 

Jim Bob Duggar, the dad, made a comment on a question and answer show last night that stunned me.  He said if he and Michelle end up having 20 children, and each of their children has 10 children, then there will be 200 grandchildren and the family will never be without young children toddling around.  It seems ridiculous – 200 grandchildren!? 

But then I think about how much I loved my younger brother when he was born.  I was almost eleven years old and I had no idea that I was capable of so much love.  He brought joy into our family in a way we never could have anticipated.  I adored him and stayed close to home in college to be near him.  And then our family had no babies for 21 years.  Christmas morning became rather boring – adults sleeping in and sitting around opening presents we’d often picked out for ourselves.  We played games and made everything look pretty, we went to movies, but we were working hard to amuse ourselves.  Then my sister had a baby – a beautiful little girl who brought immediate joy and laughter to our lives again.  She will be almost two years old this Christmas and we are all thrilled.  We can’t wait to make Christmas special for her.  She’s a constant subject of conversation and we can’t get enough of her.  A six-hour drive home feels like nothing when I know I get to spend time with that little princess.

I wonder how much joy and laughter we have missed because we think we have to wait for the perfect time, the perfect economic situation, the perfect amount of energy to have babies.  Michelle Duggar is in her early 40s and she isn’t slowing down one bit.  She is healthy and happy.  When she went on interviews early in her pregnancy and was asked how she felt, she joyfully said she was nauseous and that was a good sign because it meant the baby was healthy.  When they announced the news to their children, there was joy; none of them groaned or acted like now they were going to get less attention from their parents. 

Obviously not everyone can have 20 children.  Michelle Duggar is an unusual woman who is physically capable of having babies without difficulty and stared very young.  But I think there’s something to be said for the way they do things.  We are such control freaks in our society.  We want everything to be perfect and get out of sorts when we realize the inevitable –that life is messy.  We want to be able to buy designer clothes for ourselves and our children (when the Duggars seem perfectly happy to shop at thrift stores for much of what they need).  We want to fit nicely into a booth at a restaurant.  We want to keep things small and contained and under control. 

I find something beautiful in the lives of these people who have turned control over to God and trust Him to help them manage their humongous family.  Michelle is a very organized woman and she has systems in place for everything.  The older children help take care of the younger ones.  Everyone has chores.  They built their house themselves and made it an educational adventure.  If they didn’t know how to do something, they brought in professionals who were willing to work alongside them and teach them how to do it.  They are completely debt-free.  Their house stays clean because each child has regular chores they are expected to do.  They agreed to do a television show so they could be an encouragement to others, sharing the message that their faith sustains them and children are a blessing.  Sure, they get paid to do the show, which is a huge incentive.  They are creative in finding ways to sustain their large family and continue to be debt-free.

I’m not saying I plan to adopt their way of doing things, but I do think it’s an interesting and challenging point of view.  They seem to be doing it well and are an inspiration.  It definitely gives me something to think about.  Don’t expect me to start walking around in ankle-length skirts and perming my hair though.  And as for babies, there will need to be a husband first.  I’m mature enough to realize that this yet-to-be-seen husband will have ideas and opinions of his own.  But if that day ever comes and I’m married and pregnant, I promise to do my best to smile through my nausea and tell you joyfully that it means the pregnancy is going well.

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And So the Story Goes, Part 1

God convicted me several years ago that when He does something good for me, it is a part of my testimony and testimonies are meant to be shared.  I’ve been sitting on this one for a while now and only those who are especially close to me are aware of what God did in my life between the ages of 28-31.  I don’t know how to condense this story any more than I have, so it will be posted in several parts.  We’ll see as we go along how many posts it takes…

 When I was 11 years old, a special speaker came to our church and left a permanent mark on me.  I wish I knew exactly who she was, but all I remember is that she spoke at a mother-daughter banquet.  She talked to us young women about praying for our futures.  She said our parents could pray, but we had a responsibility to pray as well.  She pricked my heart as she challenged us to pray for our future husband and children.  She gave us specifics – for healthy, godly children; for a godly husband – the right husband.  I remember thinking that if I started praying that young for those things, I would have the BEST husband and the most healthy, whole, and godly children of anyone.  And so I prayed and prayed and prayed. 

Fast-forward 15 years to the summer of 2002 and you’ll find me at age 26, still single.  I had been given several opportunities to get married and had declined them all because they were not what I had prayed for.  I was holding out hope for the man who was sent directly by God to me with no question and no compromise.  Then a series of unfortunate events occurred and exposed the weakness of my faith, causing me to lose even more faith in church leaders than I already had.  I had what might be called a crisis of faith.  It’s not that I lost my faith in God; it’s more that I began to seriously question my own standards and whether my faith was actually “faith” or if I was some kind of narcissist who believed she was special and should have the best of everything.  I wondered if, in reality, God just expected me to use my common sense and instincts to find a good man and marry him – rather than wait for some “Divine appointment” to occur. 

I ended up falling in love with a guy from church who was a good, solid, Christian man.  He was financially responsible, funny, professional, intelligent, well-educated, and honest.  We were friends for several years before we dated.  I had never been romantically interested in him until one day a switch flipped inside me and I suddenly was.  I couldn’t explain the switch and thought it must be from God.  After a year of dating, we got engaged and began pre-marriage counseling.  It was then that we realized that we weren’t actually a good match for each other.  It was extremely painful, and we tried really hard to make it work.  He thought it would be fine to keep dating indefinitely and continue working on our issues.  I thought if we were going to keep working at it, we might as well do so married.  At an impasse, we broke up.  To say my heart was broken in a million pieces is not overstating things.  I was devastated.  I was now 28 years old and no closer to my goal of marriage and children. 

During the time that we were trying to work things out, I got very sick.  I ended up in the hospital with what they finally diagnosed as mono and severe tonsillitis.  I was physically weak for about a year following that sickness.  At the same time, nearly every one of my closest friends moved away.  The cost of living went up dramatically and my salary did not, leaving me so financially strapped that I began selling my furniture and anything I didn’t absolutely need in order to pay bills.  I sold my beloved VW Jetta and drove my parent’s old, beat up Chevy Corsica.  On top of everything else, things at my job suddenly turned sour. 

I had worked for the same company for six years and loved my time there.  I had been in my department for three years when my boss retired.  The woman who replaced her didn’t get much training and struggled to manage the department.  I tried to help her, teaching her everything I knew about the job.  I liked her and thought we had a good relationship, but somewhere along the way things changed.  She suddenly turned on me and found something wrong with everything I did.  For four months I was under a vicious attack, but nothing could be found against me so I maintained my job and had the support of her superiors.  But a person can only take that for so long.  It was extremely humbling.  One of the most painful things about it was that my co-workers, who I had been very close to over the years, were forced to turn their backs on me to preserve their own jobs.  Only one of them stood with me. 

I had also been very active in my church for several years.  We had a Sunday school class of 400-500 people (crazy, I know…) and I was the volunteer social activities coordinator.  We did all kinds of fun things and I loved it.  We were led by a dynamic preacher who was an assistant pastor at the church.  He ended up leaving the church due to moral failure and that blew our group apart.  Many stopped attending the church and our social network basically disintegrated. 

I was at the end of my rope.  This was the winter of 2003/2004 – one of the darkest times of my entire life. 

But the good news is that something positive always seems to come out of those dark times.  I had always kept journals, but during that especially difficult time, it seemed I couldn’t get through a day without writing.  I wrote page after page, pouring out my feelings and discovering that I was able to figure things out on paper a lot better than in my head.  As I wrote, it often felt like a Divine hand was guiding me and the words that came to the page were from some other place inside of me – a place I couldn’t find any other way. 

It was during those times of journaling that I gained the courage to do what I knew God had called me to do.

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