When I was in my early twenties, I lived in Papillion, Nebraska. Sitting with a friend on the front steps of my apartment building one day, I remember the conversation we were having about heaven. “Seriously”, I pondered aloud, “what are we going to do in heaven”?
Having believed I was a Christian since I was eleven, I don’t remember applying any solid teaching on the subject up to that point. As a result, the first thing I thought of when it came to heaven was floating on a cloud with harp in hand. But my friend and I had recently heard a sermon where the thought had been introduced. The preacher had mentioned that we would eternally be in His presence! Okay… so, I had to admit, it sounded a little boring. I mean, what would we be doing in His presence? The sermon didn’t really offer a lot along those lines, so the discussion turned to hoping that I lived for a really long time so that I would not have to begin such a dull eternal existence earlier than necessary!
Life would drastically change for me just a short time later, and Christ would become much more real. But I wonder if I am not alone in my initial thoughts. I wonder if many of you, too, have at one time or other compared heaven to life on earth, or even to hell, and found heaven “lacking”. If that’s the case, I encourage you to read this blog through to the end, and I pray your thoughts will be impacted differently moving forward.
I have a friend that believes hell is one big party, and she wants to arrive there with glass in hand and a smile on her face! She truly believes that is where all her closest friends will be, too, and that it is far more fun to live life the way she wants here on earth. When she told me this I thought of my own impressions of heaven when I was younger, and couldn’t help but think they weren’t too far apart.
I have another friend, on the other hand, who believes every sickness, every disease, every addiction, every physical condition, every hurt, every pain that you live with here on earth will accompany you into hell if you are not a Christian; and that you will have to live in that same condition (always wanting the high but never able to get it, always wanting the drink, or the pain to stop, or always missing a limb) for all eternity.
Wherever your thoughts may fall in between those two points of view, I do know one thing about hell. I know it is the place where God is not. Who is God? What do you think about when you ponder this question? Savior (John 3:16), Redeemer (Psalms 107:2), Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:4), Healer (Exodus 15:26), Provider (Gen 22:14), Shepherd (John 10:11), Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6), Peace (Judges 6:24); Sanctifier (Leviticus 20:7). I’ve been told there are over 900 names for God, and they can all be summed up in one word: Love (I John 4:8). So hell, in essence, is the absence of Love.
So who is Satan? I used to think of him as the little red guy with pointy ears and a pitch fork sitting on my shoulder, telling me how the parties in hell were to die for! In all seriousness, however, when I first began to study this question, I was shocked and amazed at what I found. The bible describes Satan in Ezekiel 28:11-19 as created by God, having the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, covered in every precious stone – the ruby, topaz, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, lapis, lazuli, turquoise, emerald; all set in engraved gold; the anointed cherub who was on the holy mountain of God, and walked in the midst of stones of fire. Isaiah 14 describes him as the star of the morning, son of the dawn!
So what happened? Why is that no longer the image that comes to mind, no matter how twisted our image may be? The answer is also in both of these passages I have mentioned. Ezekiel tells us his heart was lifted up because of his beauty, and corrupted his wisdom by reason of his splendor. Isaiah tells us he said in his heart “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High”. It was the ultimate betrayal. Because of this, he was cast down to hell, and that maggots are spread out as his bed, worms are his covering, he was cast out of his grave, rejected, clothed with the slain, a trampled corpse. It is also interesting to note that as he was a created being, this also implies he was limited from the get-go.
It occurred to me after reading those passages that Satan must be a special kind of stupid. I say that because of how amazed I was by what happened! He had the privilege of beholding God, and yet all he could see was himself. Can you imagine the privilege of living before the Most High God, Master and Creator of this universe and all that is within it, seeing Him in all of His splendor, beholding Him face to face, and still having the audacity to think you were better? That is when it dawned on me that sin is refusing to see Christ for who He is.
So now, these many years later, I am scratching the surface of what it means to live in the presence of God, to desire to know Him more, and to understand that I am lost without Him. My prayer for myself and for others is that I will (we will) not be that “special kind of stupid”, where we are deceived by Satan into thinking he is better, or that we are better outside of the presence of God. As one of my favorite songs so adequately says, “I’m desperate for You”, and I am so honored and humbled that I can live in His presence. Thoughts of being in His presence enrapture my soul! I cannot imagine living in a place without Love, without Christ!
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One thought on “Desperate for You”
You hit it on the mark!!! Excellent my friend.
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