“Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been.” – A.W. Tozer
I don’t like to watch TV unless I need a distraction. It’s too much nonsense and noise. I prefer reading instead. I read constantly, devouring books about suffering, people who have overcome suffering, people who have figured out how to live despite suffering, etc. I’m always searching for answers, something that will turn on the flashlight to the path that digs me out of the pit. Most books start off ok. I underline the parts that I relate to about how terrible the author feels and have the urge to fist bump her with a “right on, sister.” But by the end I’m ready to throw the book across the room. There are never any satisfactory conclusions. It all seems too positive-thinky or happy-go-lucky for me. No answer to the suffering question is ever good enough so I start to wonder what is wrong with me. I am ashamed of my doubts.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way, can I? I wonder if I’m supposed to be the one who tells it like it is. I inherited my precious grandma’s blunt speaking abilities so I might as well use their powers for good, right? Maybe I’m supposed to be the one who shatters the impossible, guilt-invoking picture of ideal suffering and says what so many of us are thinking: Life feels like hell and heaven feels too far away. Most of what I read, and even some of what I say on not-so-bad days, focuses on the hope of heaven. And probably rightly so. Some days that’s enough for me. Today it is not. And I feel guilty. Looking forward to heaven is something I do every moment of every day. But what about the now? Does God not care about it too? Does He not see us now? And what exactly is the point of now? On days like this I still don’t know, but I pray for patience until He shows me or I see Him face to face.
This life is what feels real to me. And, I think, with good reason. I see the room rocking back and forth through my dizzy eyes. I feel the aches from my recurrent fever. I hear the constant roar in my ears. I taste the dullness of my all-natural, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free, fruit-free, joy-free diet. I smell the rotting garbage I forgot to take out before it got too hot for me to walk 100 feet to the dumpster. All of this is very real to me. And it doesn’t seem possible for Heaven to feel this real right now. Heaven can’t currently be experienced by my five senses… or can it?
A.W. Tozer would disagree with me. He believes we have a God who can be experienced in just as real, if not more real ways, than earthly things. He asks why else the Bible would say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). He says, “The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ alive now and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing.” On days like today, all I can do is pray for God to strengthen those eyes and ears. And on better days, I’m pretty good at exercising them myself. I can see God out my window in the green of the trees, hear Him in the songs of the birds, smell Him in the fragrant oils diffusing in my house, taste Him in the abundant foods I am allowed to eat, and feel Him in my husband’s arms. But most of the time, my discomfort and sorrow feel much more real.
Am I having a pity party today? Perhaps. But maybe I’m just speaking what I feel, and I think that might be ok. I’ve beaten myself up enough times about this in the past so, for now, I’m just going to call my doubts out loud. Maybe they will lose just a little bit of their power. And maybe someone else with similar doubts won’t feel so alone, so ashamed, so outcast. There is nothing wrong with me and there is nothing wrong with you. God knows life is hard and it’s difficult to believe the truth that He is good. But, He is good. Repeat it until you believe it. He loves us just as much today as He does when we have our eyes and ears on straight. For that, I am so grateful.
I pray often to see through God’s eyes, to have a heavenly perspective. I ache for it. I couldn’t continue on in this hell… er… life without it. I pray that some day soon God will “Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been” (Tozer). But for this moment I will indulge in an episode of the Golden Girls, watching them drown their sorrows in cheesecake so I can vicariously drown mine. And I’ll try not to feel guilty about it. Later I’ll get up, brush my hair that I didn’t even bother to dry this morning (at least I showered), fix our favorite diet-compliant meal, and continue my search for God in the real.
Song I’m feeling with every ounce of my being: Tell me, by Alathea
“Tell me it’s gonna be ok
So I can last another day
I can’t see what’s around the bend
Or if this road’s gonna ever end
Till you tell me it’s gonna be ok
Tell me the sun’s gonna shine
It’s been a dark, dark night in this soul of mine
Every string I’ve been dangling by
Is strengthening with the dawning sky
And you tell me the sun will shine
Tell me I’ll love again
‘Cause I grew numb to that when I trusted him
I can feel the tender parts
Of this beating, breaking heart
Tell me I’ll love again
Tell me what I’ll become
When I’ve worked real hard and my day is done
I HOPE TO HOLD TO WHAT IS REAL
NOT THE THINGS THE THIEF CAN STEAL
Please tell me what I’ll become
Tell me my faith will last
Through the stormy gales that are blowing past
I’m setting sail to this wind
Still too scared to begin
Till you tell me my faith will last.”