As the seconds tick and the hours fly, another day of my life comes to a close and night settles over my Vermont hills. The crisp winds of a fall night whistle and strike chimes just outside of my door. As I recline on my bed the ticking of my clock and typing sounds from my computer keyboard hardly break the silence. I yearn to share a heart that is both an eternity away, and right at hand.
Through two recent and specific experiences, I was led to a place where I could identify with a fraction of this heart, when mine was touched and pierced too.
When small but eternally significant thoughts and ideas come to mind, they are often whispered by a heavenly messenger. The memory of a particular man who had been missing from church attendance for 2 ½ years became a burden on my heart, and with growing excitement I searched for his mailing address, petitioned church members to sign an expression of how much he was still missed and loved, and sent the card with a prayer.
Maybe Dennis would never respond, but maybe it would at least touch his heart. I might never see him again, but at least I could be assured that I reached out to the older man. The joy received from taking part in God’s work fully repays all effort, even if we see no results from this side of heaven.
On the following Sabbath from the piano bench, I saw him slip into a far corner of the sanctuary. His head turned, gazing at the people who had written to him in that single card, and as his eyes locked with theirs, he flashed a smile.
Oh joy, pure joy. After being away so long, he came back again. It would be impossible to hold back my smiles. Lord, is this mixture of excitement, anticipation, and happiness what You experience each day when one of Your children takes the road home? Heaven must be made of pure joy.”
My joy was overflowing.
I savored the kinship I felt with His heart right then. We shared the same happiness, we loved the same soul. And it was difficult to imagine that while I was bursting with happiness, this was only a fraction of His when the created trusts the Creator.
More than two weeks ago on a beautiful Sabbath day, a precious little Siamese cat slipped by the front door and scampered across the thick grass of our lawn. The mysterious adventure of the outdoors drew her from the confinement of the house, and she played with the brisk and playful breeze.
My family rushed off to church, and the womenfolk lingered long after potluck to fellowship with friends and share music together. Meanwhile, my dad and the boys enjoyed a quiet afternoon at home. Joseph was outdoors when he heard the sounds of a struggle in the woods, a cry – and then silence.
But even though we were sure she was gone, we still hoped and searched, calling her name in the silence. Tramping through briers and weeds in the darkness of the night, I called for a kitty that had a piece of my heart. The calls of my friends and family echoed across the cleared portion of our property as they tramped in tennis shoes and darted the flashlight beams through the forest.
Our group returned to the house, flooding with warmth and light, love and happiness, but I linger on the front porch. There is an emptiness now that nothing else can quite fill.
It’s such a cold night out there, I shiver and wrap my arms around my shoulders as I stand alone, gazing at twinkling stars in light of the moon. The faint cry of the woodcock hovering over her nest in the woods, and low drone of weary grasshoppers, clinging to tall blades of grass blend with the whisper of the cool wind brushing my face.
Why did it have to be Precious? Why did she ever slip out of our house and into the cool shadows of too often unforgiving nature? Couldn’t the fox have taken something less sweet and precious to me?
Seemingly on the whisper of the wind, I hear, Sorrow with me. Feel my loss. And this is not even a fraction of the pain that hurts my heart when mankind that I love lets go of safety and breaks away from My strength to wander alone. So painfully often, they become prey to the enemy who drains them of breath and life. I feel loss because that wanderer – so sweet and precious to my heart - leaves a void that cannot be replaced. Although there is great joy in heaven’s courts, I still shed tears. Tears for those who made themselves lost to me by fleeing from safety to trust the enemy.
We sorrow together, and His tears comfort me.
Heaven’s courts are illuminated with brightness too intense for human eye. Mansions have been prepared, unsurpassed and unblemished in pure beauty for us. The song of angels perfumes the air with sweetness and joy as the repentant child, the wandering creation, returns to claim the presence of his Lord.
Heaven is made of pure joy, I exclaim in wonder.
Heaven is made of pure joy, I exclaim in wonder.
But then a strange silence covers the scores of heavenly beings hovering over the throne room. In a place where there should be only singing and laughter, there is breathed a sigh of deep and heavy sadness.
“Oh why, why did he let Me go?” I hear the tender cry from the Savior, as He traces the way of a wandering child. “My love is holding on, but it won’t keep him from danger when he walks in its path.”
And then another mournful word. “She had no time for me this morning. Some of her actions today will ultimately effect ten other souls for eternity. If she only realized how thin of a thread she holds in connection to the divine…”
Tears fall. “Oh Father, they are so sweet and precious to me. I sacrificed eternity for their sakes, but they refuse to give up the husks of a dark world for the riches of another.”
I stand unmoved, shocked by the realization that my Savior sorrows still. Heaven is made of pure joy, but tears and grief are there - a constant reminder of what sin and separation cost.
I expected only rapture would be here, but what is this grief I see? And as I search my heart…could it be over me?
In the quietness of my bedroom, I look back and savor feeling His closeness through both joy and pain. Challenges and hardships have a new meaning now, for I am challenged to the core when I behold His loveliness, and find strength as I surrender my weakness. Through each test of faith, I am drawn deeper into a heart that has been touched by every sorrow, and hurt by every pain, but still loves to no end.