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Thirsty Overcomers Will Inherit the Earth (part 1)

June 6, 2008

Excerpt from a sermon preached in September 1998.

This summer Katie and I drove to Albuquerque, NM for the Free Church National Conference. On the last day of the journey we set out from Wichita, KS and I decided to try to cut the corner by taking two-lane Highway 54 across Western Kansas and the panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. You could make an argument that the countryside was desolate, maybe even ugly. But I thought it was incredible. My soul was filled with awe at just the bigness of the Great Plains. There were stretches of road where you could see literally nothing from horizon to horizon. No trees, no grain elevators, not even a cow. I wanted to stop and get out and spin around and get vertigo taking it all in, but it was about 108 degrees outside so we passed on that experience. Same kind of feeling you would get if you were on a boat in the middle of the ocean, except this was an ocean of land. Never been on a boat on the ocean, closest I came was when I was 12 years old we took a ferry across Lake Michigan and we were out far enough that there was nothing but water from horizon to horizon and I remember that was endlessly fascinating to me. It’s that same feeling of infinite space that draws us to lay on the grass and gaze at the stars.

I’ve heard some explain the wonder of that experience by saying that it reminds us of how small we are. But I don’t think that’s it, these experiences don’t make me feel small. Rather, I feel my soul enlarged. This feeling of wonder reminds us that we were made to enjoy something much larger than the things upon which we normally fix our gaze. Ecclesiastes says that God has set eternity in the hearts of men. We resonate with this feeling of infinite space because we sense something of our destiny. The truth is that you will outlive the stars. When all those stars fizzle out and die, your soul will still be conscious.

There is something ennobling about thinking on eternity. The more frequently and clearly you think about heaven, the more fully human you become. The world doesn’t believe this. The world mocks us when we talk about heaven. We hear phrases like “pie in the sky in the sweet by and by”. or we hear of people who are “so heavenlyminded that they are no earthly good.” I’ve never met a person like that. My experience is that the most heavenlyminded people I’ve met are in fact doing tremendous earthly good for people around them. I’m reading a history of Ireland and the author says of Patrick that he was “a holy man, a visionary for whom there was no longer any rigid separation between this world and the next” and it was precisely because of this vision he was enabled to do a powerful lot of good including opposing the slave trade and reforming some of the horrific practices of pagan Ireland. A person who longs for heaven, who prays for God’s Kingdom to come, is also a person who longs for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. The world desperately needs heavenlyminded people, who march to the beat of a different and heavenly drummer.

Our souls were made to enjoy something much larger than the things upon which we normally fix our gaze. And that’s one of the first impressions you feel upon reading about heaven in Revelation 21-22. Heaven is huge. It is unspeakably vast. It is indescribably enormous. It is the very dwelling place of God. CS Lewis said that heaven makes the whole solar system seem like an indoor affair.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. anakainosis permalink
    June 9, 2008 4:43 pm

    i’ve been contemplating on the eternity of God and how right it feels for the finite human soul to get lost, totally dizzied and lost… and to reflect on the fact that we have some share in that eternity, that our own souls are eternal and that the God we serve is both infinite and eternal…

    amen to this, no doubt. having an “eternal perspective” is too trite a phrase to describe a constant window to glimpse what is, by definition, indescribable

  2. June 12, 2008 11:40 pm

    Thanks to Reepicheep and a few others, these sermons are now available here.

    http://www.communityefc.org/index.php/CEFChome/sermons/scripture/48

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