It seems to me “heaven” is more of an attitude or lens for seeing life, than it is a place … at least while we’re alive. For years I thought feeling the Spirit, or “experiencing God”, was a rare event and/or just for select people. Yet, over time I’ve found a simple shift of mentality allows this bliss to be frequent and for everyone, because really and truly the gate of heaven is EVERYWHERE!
A friend of mine once said her favorite thing about the Bible was its stories’ main characters are frequently average, ordinary people who sometimes do dumb things and make messes of their lives … like HER. Amen to that sister! In Genesis 28, for instance, just after tricking his father to steal his elder brother Esau’s blessing (a BIG deal back then), fearing for his life (Esau said he was going to kill him) Jacob leaves home for a land foreign to him. Camping in the middle of nowhere, during the night his eyes are opened to realize there’s a gate of heaven there and Jacob encounters God. In my mind, neither Jacob nor that place was special, instead a universal Truth was revealed to him: The gate of heaven is EVERYWHERE … we “simply” must train ourselves to see it!
The gate of heaven might be your desk, or it may be your kitchen, or it may be at the gym, or it may be in your car. One of the Bible’s most famous passages takes this reality even further. The song in Psalm 23 talks of God preparing us a table in the PRESENCE of our enemies. How crazy and wonderful is that? The gate of heaven exists even in the midst of war, struggle, oppression, hurt, fear, and arguments!
The question is: How do we train ourselves to see heaven breaking into our lives? Author Richard Beck says pay attention to when you feel (or could) wonder, grace, gratitude, and joy, and I think he’s spot on! Savor moments of connection, whether it’s with beauty in nature, kindness from people, blessings in life, or little experiences of celebration.
Wonder: Seeing sunrises, sunsets, a picturesque moon, snowcapped mountains, the ocean, a stunning tree, a beautiful flower, and so on moves us to awe. These are glimpses of heaven. Nearly everyday I walk or run by a nearby bay. It’s an ordinary body of water and nothing particularly special … yet, this last week, everyday it’s dropped my jaw because I’ve practiced realizing it’s paradise bursting forth.
(This is the bay I was talking about)
Grace: Being forgiven, witnessing kindness, receiving generosity, hearing an encouraging word, being given a second chance, compliments, and so on warm our hearts and fill our souls. Heaven’s goodness is unending and gratuitously showered on everyone like rain, making any experience of grace a divine encounter. Today, multiple yoga students told me how excited they were that it worked to come to MY class, these were angelic gifts!
Gratitude: Gratitude is perhaps the most powerful “drug” in the world in that it rewires our brains to see the good, feel more joy, and receive greater peace. Each breath is a gift. Food is amazing. Friends are the best. The list of things to be grateful for in life is nearly endless. I’m immensely thankful for many courageous ladies who yesterday shared about their stories of abuse.
Joy: We choose, spread, and share joy by deciding to celebrate every chance we get. Making dinner is high-five worthy. Doing the laundry deserves a pat on the back. Getting any type of workout in warrants a fist bump. I just gave myself a high-five for writing this blog. 🙂
The gate of heaven is everywhere. The more we tune our senses in to wonder, grace, gratitude, and joy, the more we’ll experience this beautiful, life-giving Truth.
Grace and peace,