Kerri did a wonderful job closing our discussion in the Songs of Ascent. We spent a lot of time talking about quotes from Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, which is based on the Songs of Ascent. Last night, each member was assigned a quote from the last chapter to talk about.
My quote from the book was actually a quote from Catherine of Siena:
“All the way to heaven is heaven.”
That statement is so rich with meaning for me. It summarizes some cataclysmic shifts in thinking and living that I’ve experienced over the last several years. Heaven is not a distant destination that I will escape to one day, leaving an evil creation to be destroyed and replaced with some new magical place.
Nope. When God looked at creation and said, “It is good,” he never changed his mind. Heaven isn’t a magical realm where we live happily ever after. Rather, heaven and earth are the two sides of God’s one good creation. And God’s goal is to see his entire creation whole, restored and reaching his wildest dreams. In that light, Jesus taught us to pray and live “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The goal isn’t escape, but restoration. It’s eventual joining and interlocking of the two dimensions so that God’s rule and presence fills the earth as it does heaven.
So when I finally arrive at that time and place — the threshold of God’s New Creation that is filled with his unleashed glory and presence — I want to be able to look back on my life and realize my entire journey has not only prepared me for my eternal life with God in his renewed and restored world, but also contributed to the actual renewing and restoring of that world.