There is a place awaiting us that our world is a mere shadow, a mere echo of!
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
1 Peter 3:13
“Further up and further in!” This is quoted several times in the last two chapters of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis. Running without getting tired, swimming up waterfalls, climbing a mountain to only see more and greater mountains beyond.
These are descriptions of heaven from the imagination of C. S. Lewis. The heaven he imagines in the Chronicles of Narnia is earth as it was created to be: endless and endlessly beautiful.
We can see mere shadows of this here on this present earth.
The white sands of the island of Aruba.
The snowcapped mountains of the Grand Tetons.
The endless prairies of the Great Plains.
The hills and dales of England.
The mist-filled valleys of New Zealand.
These are all glimpses of the heaven that even now Jesus is preparing for us who believe in him as Lord and Savior.
Other shadows, other echoes of heaven are the cooing of a newborn son, the soft Christmas music by a warm fire on a snowy, late Christmas Eve, the whisper of, “I love you” from your spouse.
There are times when life in this world seems like it can’t get any better. That this is heaven.
But then reality invades. This isn’t heaven. Not even close.
Fires destroy hundreds of houses and thousands of lives in Southern California.
Earthquakes level the homes and lives of multitudes in India.
Mass shootings in Texas and Nevada.
Divorce rips families apart. Cancer takes a loved one away. Injury halts a promising career.
No, as good as this world seems at times, it can be just as bad. The good news is that this is not heaven. Not even close!
Jesus Christ came to be our “God with skin on” at Christmas. He stepped out of the true heaven to walk our sinful sod.
Why? Why would anyone willingly leave heaven?
Love. That’s the answer. God loves you. Even when you are at your unloveliest God loves you.
Jesus Christ gave up heaven, gave up his very life, so that you could be sin-free and live eternally in the true heavens and earth.
Jesus is preparing that place even now. That’s what he said he was going to do.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:1-4).
The way is him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
As we get ever closer to the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I pray you will keep your eyes on what awaits beyond the manger in the stable, beyond the cross on Calvary.
Keep the faith that will lead us to the place where we can run without ever growing tired, climb new and bigger mountains, swim up waterfalls, and continually keep going “further up and further in.”
Heavenly Father, all too often I keep my eyes and heart focused on the here and now. By the power of your Holy Spirit help me to long for the new heavens and the new earth that Jesus is preparing for me and all those who have faith in him. As I prepare to celebrate Christmas, help me to continue to go further up and further in to the place you intend for me to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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