Like a drink of water after a marathon. Your own bed after weeks away. A hug from your son or daughter returning home. Protein after a workout. A hot shower after catapulting off your paddle board into deep muck (not that I know this personally).
That's how the sun's rays felt last Sunday after months of Minnesota chill. As I lay sprawled on the back deck of our red, black and white Malibu, the sun's rays gave valiant effort to change my white Scandinavian freckled skin to a reddish brown. As the boat gently bobbed up and down like the local loons in the middle of the lake, my son read his novel and my husband polished water stains to oblivion. The birds were singing like they were competing in an American Idol contest as the water gently lapped onto the sandy, rocky shores.
"I'm in heaven," I thought.
Times like this I want frozen. I don't want them to leave.
I think we all yearn for heaven. For paradise. For beauty and love to abound. When we get even a cloudy-mirror-version of paradise, we are joy-filled and content.
We were made for paradise.
That was God's plan. Deep down our souls know this. Yearn for it even.
When God made Adam and Eve and placed them in the beauty-filled garden he created, he spent time with them, walked and talked with them; they experienced fellowship. This was his ultimate plan.
Beauty abounded. Peace infiltrated. Love saturated. Rightness permeated.
They walked with the One who was all these things.
But he wanted us to choose him.
And we didn't.
The earth has been mourning ever since. Satan was handed the keys to this world. Temporarily. And we see its effects every day.
This past winter, I wrote more sympathy cards for loved ones than I care to think about. Maybe you are in a season of winter right now. You lost a loved one, and you have all you can do to function at a minimum. I've been there. Or you are in constant pain or sickness. Or you can't get the job, make the grade, restore a relationship or are being wrongly accused or persecuted.
Know that God loves you and will walk with you. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
And God sent his son to conquer sin and death. When we believe in Jesus and receive this amazing free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), we will some day conquer death as well. Paradise will be restored. We will walk with the One our hearts ultimately yearns for.
As Sons and Daughters, we can start right now to bring some heaven into this earth: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9a) The world desperately needs to see glimpses of paradise, of the soul-lover, in us.
I'm so thankful to God for these snippets of paradise in the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, warm sun rays, refreshing bodies of water and the spattering of crayola-colored blooms spring and summer bring. For God's love in our souls and in loved ones around us.
And we can take comfort in Jesus' words: "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."(John 14:2-3 [ESV])