On the road, again! I’m on vacation—actually a working vacation—as a chaperone for my kids’ band trip. We are in Chicago today, visiting several museums and Navy Pier. Yesterday we were at the top of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), 103 floors above ground! It was amazing to look out over the city of Chicago and Lake Michigan. What made it ever more incredible were the retractable glass balconies that jutted out from the building about four feet—made of solid glass so you could stand on it and look down the side of the building to the street Although I went out there to take a picture with my kids, I have to admit some fear and apprehension as I did!
All this sightseeing got me to thinking—as amazing as all of this is, the buildings, old and new, the creativity, and even the vistas of nature, if these things are so mind-blowing, what will it be like when we see heaven? The Casting Crowns song, I Can Only Imagine, relates to one man’s consideration of how he will respond to seeing God face to face. “Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of you be still?” How will I react when I see Christ? There are a few things that will define my reaction.
My sin. We have each been in the situation of “being busted.” I don’t mean “broke,” but rather being found out, caught, told on . . . in other words, found to be guilty! How much more so when standing before the One who knows everything, from beginning to end—what I’ve done, what I’ve thought, and what I will do?
The truth is that God does see everything and know everything, and in the absence of the Cross of Christ, we are “have been weighed on the scales and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). (If only that were true about my actual weight!) No matter what good I do, or how selfless I become, I am still a sinner in relation to God’s perfection. I will still fall short and be judged, and no matter how hard I try, there is still a fixed gulf between me and God.
While that is true, however, there is good news, and this makes me long to be in God’s presence. You see, although I have sinned, and do sin as I try to find my way in this life, when I am covered with the blood of Christ, that is, accept His sacrifice in payment for my sins, God no longer sees my failures, my sins. I am freed from judgment and cleansed. The prophet Micah said it this way, “You will again have compassion on us: you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). David also said believed this: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11-12).
When my kids were little and neither one would admit who had started the fight, or had broken the toy, or whatever calamity they had just been involved in, I would sometimes ask them, “Do I need to pray and ask Jesus what really happened? Do you think God will tell me? Or do you want to tell me now?” Amazingly, it often worked! In their childlike faith they believed God had seen everything and would have let me know, and for lying they would be in even bigger trouble!
I am not perfect by any means, I often find myself praying and then realizing that I’m talking to God as if He doesn’t know who I actually am—how I think, talk, and behave—when I’m not praying. Then I have to stop and apologize, to admit who I am and how I have been. Somehow that confession frees me, but only if I believe that God does accept Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for my shortcomings.
I can only imagine what heaven will be like, but I do know this: I won’t have to grovel in God’s presence, as if in the presence of an earthly king or despot. I won’t have to hide myself from God’s presence, as Adam and Eve hid themselves from God when they realized they had broken God’s law. Although I have fallen short and have sinned, I no longer have to bear that burden because Christ has borne it for me on the Cross; “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5).
Rejoice in the beauty of this earth and the creativity of humankind, sure, but more than that, my prayer is that you will know the forgiveness of Christ, the freedom that occurs when you realize that your sins have been forgiven and cast away, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church
P.O. Box 393
Greenfield, Missouri 65661