Sunday, April 18, 2010

Glimpses of Heaven

A long time ago when my youngest son was a little boy, I used tell him that before he came to us, he was in Heaven with God. One day I playfully asked him if he remembered anything about being there. To my utter surprise, he began telling me in all sincerity that he loved playing with the angels and that it was so beautiful there. It was such a precious thing to say, and I began to ponder his innocent words. It caused me to think about the Scripture that says, “Before you were born, I knew you.” I wondered if my little one had experienced the presence of God. What an awesome thought! When he got a little older, I asked him the same question about Heaven and he looked at me with a puzzled expression. He had forgotten.

Young children are so pure and relatively untouched by the world. They are simple creatures with a basic need to be loved and cared for. They have no worries, no concerns, no responsibilities. They respond to their mother’s smile with delight and hold tightly to their daddy’s hand when they venture out into the world. Their world is secure because someone loves them. As they get older, life becomes more complicated. They experience rejection, heartache, illness, sadness, confusion, loss, and troubles of every kind. Life becomes hard and sometimes very painful. “Playing with the angels” is nowhere in their memory.

We were all once little children. We began this life as a gift of Love from the Creator who “knit us” within our mother’s womb. Our souls were created by the Divine One. By virtue of our baptism, we carry within us the Holy Spirit who inspires us to call out to our Abba. But what has happened to all of us? Have we forgotten who we are and where we came from? Are we aware that we are the apple of His eye, that we are precious in His sight, that He has numbered every hair on our head? We may at times feel detached from our Father in Heaven, but we are, without doubt, closely connected to Him. The Lord our God has not forgotten us, and I believe that He reveals Himself to us each and every day. But have we gotten too old, too cynical, too immersed in the world, too preoccupied, to see God’s Presence in our daily lives? Are we missing the glimpses of Heaven? I assure you they are there!

One day I woke up quite early in the morning while it was still dark outside. I made a cup of tea and then went to look out my back window. In the distance was the most amazing sight. The tops of the trees were brilliant with light. The sun was just beginning to rise and the light was shining only on them. Everything else was very dark. I was stunned at the sight. I went quickly to the front window to see if I could see the sun coming up but it was still too low on the horizon. I went back to watch the trees all aglow but it had already vanished. It was but a moment of grace, a quick glimpse into the beauty of Heaven. I thanked God for allowing me to see such a spectacular sight and I realized that I need to become more aware of these “glimpses”.

Lord, open our eyes to see that You are there, that You make yourself known to us in so many different ways. You reveal your majesty, Your personality, Your love for us through Your creation, through Your Word, through the encouragement of a friend, through the smile of a stranger. Help us to become more like little children so that we can be filled with joy and awe and wonder at the gifts You give us and the many ways You remind us of where we came from…..and where we are going.

Please share your own "glimpses of Heaven".

Monday, April 5, 2010

Have you said "Alleluia" today?

One of our Easter songs begins with the words, “The strife is o’re the battle done…” Such a joyful song and so many “alleluia"s voiced. But those words might be hitting a painful chord within us today. Yes, it is the Easter season within the Church, but we as the body of Christ continue to carry the cross. And many times it is a heavy cross. Why can’t we have the victory now? Why do we still have to see so many suffering? Why do we feel such sorrow in our hearts for those friends and family members who are struggling? It’s Easter, after all. Lent is over. We are supposed to be a joyful people, are we not? Then why might our souls feel downhearted during this joyous time within the Church?

Christian living is definitely not for the faint-hearted. This path we have chosen to follow is not an easy one, to be sure! But St. Paul tells us that we must be a people dressed for battle, a battle not against flesh and blood as he says in Ephesians chapter 6, but against the powers and rulers of this present darkness. These unseen forces cause us to feel discouraged and weak, powerless and fearful, angry and resentful. Many wonder if their life has purpose, giving into a spirit of hopelessness.

So the question becomes, how do we remain strong, courageous, and yes, even joyful in the midst of these difficult times? Well, first of all, we must acknowledge that the victory has already been won. That’s the promise and the hope of Christ’s resurrection. Christ shed His precious blood and died for all and rose from the dead to give us hope of eternal life. And then He commissioned us to continue to fight the good fight of faith. But sometimes, as a “soldier”, we become weary, frustrated, tired of waiting for the “war” to be over. What is St. Paul’s answer to this? He says, “Pray at all times, on every occasion, in every season in the Spirit. Keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints.” (Amplified Bible)

Prayer; it is a simple thing, yet so very powerful; a conversation with God, telling Him everything in our hearts, speaking with honesty about what we are enduring, and then listening with great care to what He may wish to speak to us. Our God, who knows us through and through, hears our every utterance, our every sigh. His Heart is filled with great love for us and He longs to bless us with His gifts of peace, joy and healing. This time of prayer will be the source of our strength, will be what enables us to live life with a greater vision, will ultimately help us to sing out with conviction those Easter alleluias even in the darkest of days.

Perhaps if we haven’t experienced the joy of Easter, we should take some time to spend with the Lord in prayer. Even if we can’t find any words to speak, if we let him into our hearts, the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead will come and restore each of us to new life. Then we can truly sing with all our hearts, "Alleluia!"