I was writing out my thoughts the other day when this story came out. I journal most days as a part of my prayer time with God and it’s awesome but I rarely end up with anything coherent. It’s just thoughts on a page, you know? Anyway, the beginning of this came to mind as I got going. I thought He was showing me something I’d seen before, but it went in a totally new direction.
(Please note: I will credit the Lord with every creative urge that can build someone up, but I’m not trying to add to anything He has said. I have to think thoughts like this are from Him, though. You try shutting your eyes, seeing heaven, and not believing everything you see! Did I write about heaven before I gave Him everything?)
There was a town in the hills of Apalachia named Enville where lived a man who had a vision of heaven. This is what he saw.
Behold, the gates stood open wide, tall and gleaming opalescent. Walls stretched to either side as far as the eye could see and further, majestic to rival even the gates of pearl. It glistened and stood as immovable as the Almighty’s will and staggering in mass. When I passed between the pearls, I beheld the City of God in its perfection.
Golden terraces lined a street of such pure gold that it shone white though it was a deep amber at the surface. A boulevard of trees separated the sides of the highway. Plants of every kind grew in the boulevard, and fruit beyond the imagination in variety and appeal hung within easy reach for all who walked there.
I passed beneath the branches, struck by the beauty of the fruit, when my attention was jarred to what lay before me. Past the trees, the road swept down into a valley filled with as much vegetation as cityscape. Everything–every single thing–was perfect. From the different shades of green to the way each building was equally as beautiful as the gardens that clad it. Rivers and streams ran everywhere, and docks and moorings of every kind lined its banks. The people traveled by water as easily as by land, swimming as easily as walking and navigating the shoals in sea vessels with perfect agility. Lakes, lagoons by appearance but large enough to dwarf most on earth, nestled themselves perfectly into a flawless network of streets and canals. Fish danced on the surface of the too-blue water.
Then I saw a man approaching. He wore a tunic I recognized but could not describe. I saw His face, His eyes shining with a love that took my breath away. He beckoned me closer, so I went to Him.
“My child.” He beamed with pride when I took the last few steps. “Come with me. I have so much to show you!”
“Jesus,” I called Him by Name and we went, hand in hand.
We met a child on the path and Jesus went to him. “Michael, dearest child, how are you?”
The child beamed and lept into Jesus’ arms. “Daddy made me a boat.”
Jesus laughed joyfully. “I love it!” He called me over and showed me the toy. We stayed and splashed in the spring nearby for a while.
When we went on, Jesus turned to me. “You have a question.”
“Is everybody here a child?” I asked without hesitation.
Jesus laughed. “No no, but some are.”
“So,” I hesitated, “We grow older here, too?”
He laughed again, and there was such music in it that I laughed too. “No,” He said. “At least, not in the way that you’re thinking. But why should I deprive anyone the joy of childhood?”
“Did he die young?” I asked.
“So young,” his face looked so grieved for a moment that I had to rally against a lump in my own throat. Then he brightened, “But he’s here now! And We’re spoiling him rotten.” He grinned.
We kept going. Jesus pointed out different plants and flowers along the way, showing me fruit that tasted like candy and streams of water that tasted different from each other. I didn’t get tired, even though the path wound steadily into the valley and back up the other side. We walked for miles with Jesus pointing at houses and telling me about the people who lived there until we arrived at a square on a ridge overlooking the valley. Paths littered with benches, rotundas and lookouts wound down from this square in every direction, disappearing into foliage in places to appear hundreds of yards later, twisting off in a completely new direction, but never confusing its travelers.
Here, He took me to a bench in the middle and I saw that He held a big book. He opened it and pointed to a name. It belonged to the child, Michael. And beside it was a symbol I didn’t recognize.
“Time stamp,” He told me. “From millennia past. I wrote his name in here because I knew he would be killed before he even saw the sun.” Then He pointed at the next name on the list. “This is his mother. I wrote her name on the same day, even though she didn’t seek My forgiveness until fourteen years after the abortion.” He closed the book and the smile on His face wasn’t just joyful, but also hopeful and sad. “His father’s name is in here too, but We’re still calling him.”
We went to one of the lookouts at the corners of the square and Jesus let me stew for a bit while we took in the jawdropping scenery.
Jesus had a little smile on when I finally looked at Him. “Can you explain?”
“You’re wondering why I brought you here to show you this.”
“I think so.”
He laughed. “I know so. I showed you this because I want you to tell the wretched that I died with them in mind, literally. I said even your name in my head before I died because I needed that reminder that it was worth it. It pains Me to have them so locked in their own guilt. I want repentance, not condemnation!
“And now you’re wondering why you,”” He continued. “Easy. Because you are willing.”
I choked. “I can’t!” I sputtered. “I was listening. I was looking, but who am I, Lord? They’ll laugh at me.”
“Child,” he chided gently. “I have never given it to you to be perfect; I have asked for your heart because I know your flesh is untrustworthy. Why do you think I provided My Spirit for you? Because in your imperfection, I am glorified when you turn to me and accept that My blood paid for your failures. Do you think My court will find My blood insufficient when the Day comes? Far from it!”
At this, I fell to my knees, wretched sinner that I am, overwhelmed by His grace. Something gentle and reassuring fell over my shoulders and I saw Him wrap a white robe around me.
When He pulled the belt snug, He put His hands on my shoulders, appraised me and said, “Clean. Now and forever. Serve me with love, child.”
And then I was back at home, deeply empty with longing to see that city again and finally clear of heart and set on Him wholly