Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lawn

"For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables.  But the land you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the LORD your God cares for.  The eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year." - Deuteronomy 11:10-12

This kid is emailing me again.  The kid with all the questions that I mentioned a few posts back.  He's emailing stuff like: "Will people really be punished for all eternity?"  "Is heaven a place where I can do whatever I want?"  "How much sin can you get away with and still get into heaven?"

I don't really have answers.  I'm no expert on heaven.  I'm not exactly sure what it's going to be like on account of not having gone there "YET" (all caps represents the boding voice of death).  But as I read the passage above some of the rusty old cogs in my brain began to creek and screech.  Something is happening in there after all!

Namely, scripture seems to be showing me that heaven is chiefly the place where God is, which, I know, is kind of a "no duh."  And the new heavens and new earth, and "everything being made new" that the NEW testament talks so much about is inextricably (love this word) tied to God's presence.  Heaven is a place of freedom, a place of utter dependence on God.

I see it in the passage above.  Egypt is a place where the Israelites had to irrigate the land to grow, gasp, vegatables!  Yuck.  I know my kids would heartily "Amen" the negative portrayal of such a place.  Egypt was a place where they had to marshal water, since it wasn't fed from the rain of heaven.

Melissa and I were "marshaling water" today.  I haven't mowed the lawn in ages, and I'd say its sort of gotten on her nerves.  Since she already had stuff on her nerves she graciously thought she would share.  All in all she stepped on a few of mine (she's very kind, so she did so gently), but I returned the favor by dancing a little jig on hers.

We began to marshal a lot of water.  We were surrounded by it, and what began as a few "innocent" splashes in each other's face ended with us grabbing each other by the back of the head and dunking each other.  It wasn't the fun, playful dunking of childhood, it was more like the sputtering, drowning dunking of the movies.  And it reminded me, as we both ended up crying, that we still live in a land of tears, a land full of vegetables, a land of un-mowed lawns.

So what is heaven?  What is this place where God dwells?  And why oh why do we still live either like we're in Egypt, or are we actually still in Egypt?  My theology sometimes tells me one thing.  Life sometimes tells me another.

I believe that God's kingdom, or heaven, arrived in the person of Jesus Christ.  He rules now, but we still suffer from ourselves.  We've still got tempers, ugliness, anger and dark, dark stuff lurking in our dungeons of our hearts.  And to be honest, we kind of like it that way, don't we.

In Jesus I believe we have God making his dwelling with us, and we can receive his rain and watering.  Yet we balk and scoff at this, angrily pointing to all that's still wrong with the land, impatient and frustrated at a God who just doesn't seem to be in any hurry to finish his job.

It's hard living between the lands.  Living in the desert of our own making.  (And I hope I do justice to this in my blogging.)  But without the hope of a land without vegetables, and without a chance to work towards that, I'm not sure with what we're left with.  For me it would probably be my stupid lawn growing really fast for all of eternity.