I was pressed into dinner conversation the other night with a new friend in my life. He and I were sitting in a little Thai restaurant on the east side near the college campus. You know the type of restaurant where you can smell ginger and soy when you open your car door a block away. Our table was nestled in the corner window, isolated from the rest of the tables. Our conversation started the minute we sat down while our intentionally in the moment was the temple that eliminated the surrounding world.
The decision to meet out was spontaneous and random on a Friday night. We started our dinner at 6 and when the lights went out, we realized it was 10 pm.
The four hours of conversation seemed like a minute.
We were pressed into discussions of our work, lives, relationships, God, feelings, and the struggles with finding our true self. The epilogue was real. At one point in our pensiveness, I talked about a book I just started reading called, Heaven by Randy Alcorn. The cover of the book intrigued me by its discussion of countless stories about Heaven. My friend looked up and said, “I think this is heaven on earth.” We continued to share our hearts searching for validation of each others experience to find our own healing. Present in that moment, nothing else mattered other than the unequivocal devotion to our friendship.
The next day when I woke up, I was obessed with the words he used,
“This is heaven, heaven on earth.”
As I reflected, he was perfectly correct. I began to remember other times in my life when I had the same feeling as I did that evening. I thought of moments like the countless hours Diane and I would spend in college in Mr. Donut planning our future. I thought of the morning Josh was born and the intimacy of bringing new life into the world. Remembering what it felt like to walk across the stage at graduation, full of wonder and desire to make a difference. My heart ached at the thought of holding hands in a circle with my family praying around my father, who had just passed on his way to be with God. Moments of holiday’s with a house full of people laughing, smell of italian in the air and a table full of games. I could smell the purity of the northwoods lake, camping with my cousins. I thought of the communion with Christ I felt the summer I was baptized and the truth that my life has started at 50 years old. I remembered the healing that turned the dark into light as I sat on the rocks with my best friend.
I guess its is those special times with the people we love, when two or more are gathered, is what brings Jesus in the Center of our life. Its the affection of those we love intentionally that becomes the chancel of our life with one another.
Could it really be the closeness with one another, the intentiality and genuiness of love in the presence of God, that is heaven on earth?
I can’t wait to know.