FIRST-PERSON: Earthly fireworks, heaven's splendor

by Keith Shorter, posted Monday, July 15, 2019 (4 months ago)

EASLEY, S.C. (BP) -- Like millions of other Americans, I attended a local fireworks show to celebrate the Fourth of July. I had a hard time focusing on the fireworks, however, because I was sitting behind a young lady from our church who is blind.

I kept watching and listening as her mother lovingly described the fireworks that others were enjoying.

She patiently described the shapes, sizes and patterns of the colorful displays in the black sky. I closed my eyes and tried to sense what her daughter was experiencing.

I could hear the booms and the description, but I could not see the beautiful sparkles in the sky. Then I began to wonder what she pictured in her mind as her mother described the colors of the fireworks.

What does blue or red or green look like if you've never seen those colors? And how do you possibly visualize a firework shooting up into the sky and exploding into a shower of colorful sparks? I realized that she could never fully appreciate the beautiful display we were all seeing in the night sky.

That evening I also realized heaven is probably like that for all of us.

God can describe it to us, but our comprehension of what we have never seen is limited at best. The Bible says that the walls are made of jasper, the gates are made of a single pearl, and the streets are made of pure gold, like transparent glass.

The descriptions sound beautiful, but the reality is probably far beyond what we could ever conceive. We simply have no way to relate to what we will see and experience one day when we step into our eternal heavenly home as followers of Christ.

One day my blind friend will see something more beautiful than fireworks. In the Gospels, Jesus opened the eyes of the blind. In heaven, He will do it again. Her eyes will be opened, and she will see Him. There is simply no way for us to fully comprehend how wonderful that moment will be for her -- and us.

Someday we will be able to see Jesus in person, and all the earthly descriptions we have heard of Him will pale in comparison to the reality before us.

The apostle Paul has given us hope in the present by giving us a glimpse into the future, writing, "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Perhaps the season you are living in is troublesome. Maybe you are growing tired of walking by faith. You still believe, but the joy you once had has been replaced with unsettling questions that you can't answer.

Thank the Lord that life's frustrations will not last forever. We live in the hope of a better day ahead. Paul said it best in Romans 8:18: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us."

Our perspective is limited now, but there we will be a day when we will finally be able to see what God has been whispering to us. As the song says, "I can only imagine."

Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, S.C., and a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
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