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“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” -1 Corinthians 2:9

One of my favorite sayings is, “Jesus didn’t die just to get you into heaven, He died to get heaven into you.” Right here, right now, in the here and now.

We tend to read that in Corinthians and assume those words are about the afterlife, heaven, some distant plane of existence far off on the horizon. I don’t know about anyone else, but I happen to live in a fetid swamp full of poisonous tree frogs and leeches, pretty much just suffering endless rejection, corruption, and general all purpose misery.

Much like Sarah, when God told me “Hey you, eternity begins right now, ‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ I just laughed outright. You have got to be kidding me! I sure ain’t seeing it. Sarah says with complete incredulity,  “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Amusing, because she was talking about intimate things and having a baby, whereas God was just talking to me about giving birth to heaven here on earth. Make it so in your own life.

There is often a lot of bitterness, cynicism, disbelief, fear, shame, and pride, to walk through just to be able to receive those words.

This all makes sense to me today, but it did not at the time. My life was rather dark and unhappy and I was surrounded by people whose lives were even more dark and unhappy and don’t even get me started about the church and religion in general. Suffice it to say, some people are heavily invested in making sure you stay dark and unhappy so they themselves can rest in their own comfort zone, grateful that at least they aren’t as miserable as you are.

Just try walking into a room and saying, “I feel great, God is good, I just lost 50 pounds, I’m ten years younger than I was yesterday, and heaven is now hidden within me. Hallelujah!” Yeah, five people will just hate you outright, 10 will start demanding you repent, your kids will try to have you committed, and you will strain your marriage.

I am laughing, but yes, that’s pretty close to the truth. It’s just human nature.

It’s not so hard to stay stuck, it’s not so hard to be miserable, it’s not so hard to just go along to get along. What is hard and scary and painful is setting your eyes on heaven, inviting Him in to remodel your soul, and insisting that even if you are chained to a wall like the Apostle Paul was, you will still spend your time singing Psalms, rejoicing, and preaching the good news to your captors. That was the life experience of the man who actually said, “rejoice and again I say rejoice.” Re-joy thyself.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

So many people falsely believe that, “take up your cross and follow me” means that if I just suffer enough misery maybe I will be able to pay off my fire insurance bill and avoid going to hell. That’s not what we should be doing at all, because Jesus came down to bring heaven to you. We hide heaven in our hearts and out of the abundance of our heart, we will begin to shape the world around us, even from a prison cell.

Much like people who grow up in dysfunctional homes, sometimes when you take the crisis away, life is very uncomfortable, things don’t feel quite right, and it is disconcerting, because what was normal for you, distress, anxiety, fear, is now gone. “Safe, normal, at peace,” leaves you feeling like a fish out of water. If we get stuck in that mindset, we will not be heaven ready, we will be like a fish out of water.

The sad thing about a church that doesn’t want to talk about sin, repentance, grace, and transformation, is that it leaves people stuck, carrying around burdens that half the time they don’t even understand. It’s really hard to set down a bag of rocks that you don’t even know you’re carrying, in a world that doesn’t want to admit rocks are even a thing.

We need to prepare our hearts for this wedding feast, we need to let the Lord remodel our souls, we need to fix our eyes on the good things of God, so that we can slide into heaven quite naturally, like an invited guest or an old friend, as if heaven has always been our home, because it really is.