I can’t write as an authority on the future state of believers, but I am learning to recognize heaven here and now. Heaven, like grace, is present tense, and I write from personal experience that heaven on earth is living in close proximity to who and what one loves most. In that regards, I have found paradise; more accurately, paradise has found me. The most discerning, scintillating, jocular, and alluring woman I’ve ever known calls me “Darling”; precious grandchildren, daughters and sons-in-law call me “Papa,” intriguing neighbors and special others call me “friend.” I’m blessed with residential space to breathe without urban interference; plank fencing marks our boundaries rather than cement sidewalks, and caliche replaces asphalt. Prominent sounds in the distance are not those of urban sprawl; instead, Barred Owls beckon to one another, a Kingfisher rattles out near the pond, and the ever-present Phoebe wheezes on a nearby limb. And if that’s not enough to qualify as an earthly Elysium, I’m surrounded by books galore (Cicero said “A room without books is like a body without a soul”), enjoy fulfilling employment, retain the semblance of a brain, and, to top it all off, admit to darn good health for a man in his mid-50s.
I would never denigrate the thought and reality of our future state; I do, however, emphasize unapologetically the potential for embracing the Father on this side. I abide best in him, when I work at extolling his grace that benefits this breath and blesses this day. I accept the challenge of not living in the wake of what I once was. In place of always approaching sunset, I choose to rejoice over perpetual sunrise in this life and the next.
Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (Mark 10:28-30, KJV)