It all began with a conversation about heaven. I don't remember the context, or the words or deeds that fueled it, and to be honest I don't think I have any actual personal memories about this episode in my life. I was four, ok? But Chandler family legend tells of a time when my brother Andrew told me about this amazing place we could go to together, and after realizing that this place was indeed even better than Grammie's house, I decided, with all the innocence of a pre-schooler, that I wanted to go there with my brother some day. I asked Jesus to save me and forgive me.
Twenty-five years have passed. Twenty-five years of rolling along with Jesus, trying to keep pace and let my wheel tracks play connect-the-dots with his footprints before me. It's not an easy journey... sometimes my wheels get stuck in the mud or slowed down by gravel or weighed down by sand. Sometimes I don't see the footprints, and the lamp unto my feet doesn't seem to shed enough light to find the Way. Sometimes there are obstacles - steps, potholes, logs, misplaced gigantic shoes... metaphorically, of course, but sometimes literally too, to remind me.
My feet don't get tired, and my shoes don't wear out, but boy, my tire treads and my spirit get thin and frail at times. But you know what keeps me moving forward? Heaven. Not in the sense of, "Well, I'm safe from the flames of hell!" (though I am eternally grateful for that), but in the sense of, "This is not my home... this is not the end... there is so much more to come!"
Someday, I will get to soar, run and walk with more power and freedom than anyone has ever been able to here on earth. Someday, I will get to dance, bend a knee, and fall face-first before my King. Someday, I will be completely delivered from all insecurities, fears, doubts, and disappointments - no more anxiety, no more tears. Someday, I will be in true community with all my friends and family, without the restrictions of time or space to keep us apart. Someday I'll know what Jesus really looks like because I will see him face-to-face, and he will take my hand and walk with me through his garden in the cool of the day, and we will be together as we were always meant to be.
Some people think it is not a true conversion when small children accept Jesus. How can they possibly know what they are getting into? How can they really understand the depth of this commitment? To which I reply, does anyone really get it when they first accept Jesus, regardless of age? I think if any of us understood fully what we were stepping into, we would run in terror and awe in the opposite direction! All I know is that I do not remember a time when I didn't love Jesus and when I didn't know he loved me too. He captured my heart twenty-five years ago, and hasn't let me go.
He set Eternity in my heart that day... and it began with a desire to forever share unspeakable beauty and joy with my brother. I am so thankful that Andrew told me about heaven, planting a seed in my heart that has taken strong root and shaped my life with hope and eager anticipation. I still can't wait to share heaven with Andrew - I wonder what grand adventures we will have together there. Whatever it is, I know it will be beyond our wildest imaginations... and that's saying a lot, because we both have some pretty wild imaginations! So here's to Eternity, big brother. I love you.