Little Tastes of Heaven

I took my sweet little kindergartener to see Aladdin tonight. It was great, and she squealed with excitement throughout half the movie.

As we watched Aladdin and Jasmine soar through the sky on a magic carpet, I recalled watching the animated Aladdin movie with my little sister in the 90’s.

Back then, as a teenager, I was so full of hope and excitement about how my life would turn out, whom I would marry, where I would live. I had watched the romantic scenes, thinking that once I found the “right” man, life would be a constant romantic high. I was sure my future husband would always see me as beautiful and we would love each other eternally.

Now I know different.

Romance comes with a high at first, but, like a high from a drug, the thrill is short. These little highs of romance remind me of eating dessert. Think about a time when you really really wanted chocolate cake–maybe you were on a diet or trying to eat healthy, but you seriously craved chocolate. When you tasted the first few bites it was amazing, but with each bite you could taste it less and less. At the end of the binge you’re left with nothing but regret, which tastes worse than anything.

That’s how romance is. It draws you in, promising a thrill that probably beats the high of winning the lottery. But that exciting feeling doesn’t last. You might feel little sparks of it at times, but–just like the piece of chocolate cake–it doesn’t last long.

So many things in life are fleeting like that.

Every time I go on vacation I spend months planning for it and dreaming of smelling the sea breeze, but when we get there it seems to go too quickly and it’s not as exciting as last time. It seems like it’s over in a flash, and I don’t realize how much fun I had until I’m back home!

It’s like that with my kids. I have little moments now and then where I feel this echo of eternity. I’m lying on the sofa with a toddler asleep beside me, or I’m riding along in the car laughing hysterically with my teenage daughter, who has decided she actually likes me today.

I think, “I wish this moment could last forever!” And I feel like it should for some reason, but it doesn’t. The toddler wakes up and throws a fit, or the teenager retreats back into her glares when I remind her of her chores.

These moments, like romance, are fleeting.

I do still have romantic moments. Sometimes my husband caresses my hand in church or we dance and gaze into each other’s eyes at a wedding. But most of real life is not like a magic carpet ride. It’s every day, plain, difficult, boring, and maybe even pleasant sometimes.

When I taught high school I used to tell my students, “Everyone seems to think that life is like your favorite TV show, with some bad commercials thrown in once in awhile. The fun parts are the show and the hard times are the commercial breaks. But actually, the hard times of life are the show part–the longer segments–and the fun (and romantic) parts of life are the three minute commercial breaks.” It sounds depressing maybe, but it’s true.

The carpet rides are the exceptions.

I say all this because I’ve accepted that this world is not my home. As Christians we are not supposed to get too comfortable here. We are only passing through.

Therefore, I can accept that this world is not going to satisfy me. I will not find lasting happiness, fun, romance, or perfect hair. Nothing lasts on this earth, and nothing here completely fulfills our souls.

The only complete happiness will come in heaven. And until we are there we will feel incomplete. We will long for a longer kiss or another taste or more time with our kids.

C.S. Lewis wrote that we long for heaven, because that’s what we were made for. The reason it feels like those beautiful moments should last forever is that they should. And they will. Eventually. God gave us these desires and has even allowed us to live in this world of temporary pleasures so that we will long for home and for Him.

These teasers are getting us ready for the best place we’ve ever lived and teaching us to crave Him and His help to make it in this world.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 27:4 which says:

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

The Lord is beautiful and being in His presence is like all the Christmases and birthdays we’ve ever had. No chocolate cake or romantic stroll compares.*

So next time you watch a romantic movie and sigh and think, “Why isn’t my life like that?” Remember that you were made for more. You will have that happy ending one day, but right now all we get is little tastes of Heaven.

*(Note: This is if you’ve got a relationship with Jesus. If you have questions about that, feel free to email me at thesearch4happilyeverafter@gmail.com.)

Are You Too Comfortable?

What? Too comfortable?

How could anyone be too comfortable? you might ask. And why would that be a bad thing?

It does sound like a contradiction, like “too rich” or “too happy.” But being too comfortable can actually be bad for us humans, especially us Christians.

How could it be bad? you ask. Well, let me explain…

I listened to a pastor today who was talking about something totally different than this topic. But, one thing he said stood out to me. He said,

“Hell is the absence of the presence of God.”

I had heard that before, but this time it got me thinking. I was sitting next to some teenagers who were looking bored and trying to sneak peaks at their phones without getting in trouble. I realized that most of us Americans are too comfortable with life to even think that the “absence of the presence of God” sounds that bad.

Pastor Gaines said, “What could be worse [than the absence of God’s presence]?” The problem is that most people nowadays don’t care. They could care less about God’s presence, unless God is in his gift-granting mode, handing out dreams-come-true.

The problem is that we do not find the presence of God to be desirable. We have forgotten how amazing and beautiful He is.

Why? Because we are too comfortable with this life on earth. Life is so easy and convenient now that we think we have no need for God. We have so much food that we throw tons away or we gorge ourselves and end up with health problems. We have so many conveniences, we barely have to do any work. We live in a culture of excess; almost every house in this country has at least one tv, a computer, and multiple cell phones. (I even saw a homeless woman on the side of the road last week checking her smartphone next to her “Hungry and Homeless” sign.)

Besides the excess, we live in a country that, although it’s not perfect, gives us more freedom than any other country on earth. We also live in a time of relative peace. (If you don’t think so, go research life in Afghanistan, North Korea, or Palestine; we have so many rights we take for granted.)

One of the biggest obstacles is that we have so many ways to escape our problems. We not only have alcohol, drugs, and anti-depression meds, we have tons of ways to zone out and not think about life. There’s cell phones, Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, magazines, video games, Snapchat…the list goes on and on.

Another distraction from God is our obsession with being busy. Life in Western culture moves so fast. We often keep ourselves as busy as possible so we don’t have to stop and think. Busyness makes us feel important and that we’re not alone.

The truth is that the presence of God tops all of these things.

Think of the most beautiful sunset you’ve seen. The prettiest flower. The most spectacular starry night. That’s what the presence of God is like.

In the book of Psalms it says:

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

Psalm‬ ‭84:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The writer knew that God’s presence is the most beautiful, amazing, loving place in the world.

True, if you’re not right with Him, the presence of God is a scary place. He does hate sin. He will judge us all one day. But if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are clean and forgiven. You have nothing to fear.

The presence of God is Heaven. The absence of God is Hell. Knowing this, how should we live?

Now I ask you again: Are you too comfortable?