Earth Is Crammed with Heaven

Eugene PetersonIn Eugene Peterson’s book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, he tells about a lady in his church, Sister Lychen. He described her as five feet tall and shrinking. She was an older saint that lived in a small house in his neighborhood. The shades were always drawn and she never came out of her house except on Sundays. In the service, she would always stand and testify about the coming of the Lord and how she was going to witness it before she died. Eventually she died. Years later, Peterson said he imagined himself as a 10 year old again and before Sister Lychen dies. He went to her house and she invited him inside. He threw open the blinds. He then led her across the street and down a trail to a swampy place. Turtles and frogs, a nesting osprey and the downy heads of chicks just visible on the nest. In his imagination, Sister Lychen is amazed. White-tail deer leap from a tangle of cattails. The next Sunday, she stands up in worship but she doesn’t say her usual words. Instead she says “An angel visited me this week and showed me wonders I’d never seen. He said he’d come back and show me more. I’m not sure I want to leave and be with the Lord just yet.” Every Thursday, Peterson said he imagined himself going and releasing her to enjoy the world God made. And every Sunday, he imagined, no longer was a rehearsal of escape about the second coming; it was an exposition of her week. Her concluding words week after week were: “I’m not sure I want to leave quite yet.” Says Peterson: “If the blinds are drawn while we wait for Sunday, we aren’t in touch with the work that God is actually doing (71).” “…Sky and earth, plants and trees, stars and planets, fish and birds, Jersey cows and basset hounds, you and me!” If you want to know what a New Earth is going to be like, look around you! Subtract out the disease and death and you begin to get an idea. This present earth gives us a foretaste and glimpse into the New Earth. Every joy on earth is a whisper of a greater joy. The Grand Canyon, the Alps, the Amazon rain forests, the Serengeti Plain – as glorious as these are, they are all marred remnants, a shadow of what is to come. Earth is crammed with heaven. “The best things of life are souvenirs from Eden, appetizers of the New Earth.” “Just like the Garden of Eden, the New Earth will be a place of sensory delight, breathtaking beauty, satisfying relationships, and personal joy (Alcorn, Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions).”

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