This spring I launched into the world of chicken-raising, carving out a 14-chick-buffer against economic collapse and eggs which cost $10 a dozen. While I will need to wait several more months before I see the first egg, I have already been abundantly provided with many object lessons free of charge.
I won’t bore you with too many technical details, but will mention that my chicks are about four weeks old as I write, and have spent their entire existence in either a cardboard box or else a 6 X 2 foot wooden box about the size of a small coffin. It’s a simple life, really. The chicks live in our basement, get a supply of clean water each day, and a regular tray of food (resembling small gravel) which they attack with great gusto. The rest of the time they sleep or wander around pecking in the shavings. Simple. Safe. And perhaps a little dull.
What these birds don’t know is that they are poised on the edge of a brand new world: the outside. I was fortunate enough to inherit a fine chicken coop when I moved into my current house, and it has stood empty for the past two years. When we took the plunge for chicks, however, I had to inspect the coop for habitability of something besides mice. I found sections of rot to be replaced, siding that was damaged, screws that had pulled out, and a number of other things that needed attention. I have been chipping away to prepare a place that will be a safe and comfortable home.
Meanwhile, the chicks have no idea what awaits them. Instead of a coffin they will be inheriting (a comparative) mansion. Instead of a tray of what looks like gravel to eat, they will be able to chase real, live bugs, worms, and other delicacies in the wild of the yard. They will be able to feel the sun instead of a heat lamp, and take actual dust baths instead of wood shaving imitations.
I’m sure that by now you can see the parallels yourself. Like the chicks, we have spent our entire existence in a wooden coffin called this world, and the reminders of its decay (and the deadly tendencies of our own sin nature) are all around us. Sometimes we feel like we are subsisting on gravel and lukewarm water, and we struggle ahead as best as we can to make sense of it all. We feel the darkness all around us and long for true sunlight.
But a new day is coming. Jesus has also been laboring on a new home, and it’s not a chicken coop. “I go to prepare a place for you” was not just a nice idea, it is reality. And that place is not a hut, it’s a mansion. As we meditate on this scripture, it’s sort of fun to imagine what our custom-made mansion might include—a castle on a remote island? A palace on the edge of a private beach? Will there be towers? Olympic sized swimming pools? Libraries with thousands of volumes? A private launching pad to send your personal spaceship into orbit at the push of a button?
I suspect that when we actually see what He has prepared for us, everything I just imagined will be laughably pathetic. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for them that love Him.” He is, even now, preparing a heavenly home that is beyond our wildest dreams—crafting each detail with glorious precision and boundless love. No more gravel—now a wedding banquet. No more darkness of the basement—now the light of His Presence. No more tears—only infinite joy.
In a world beset by so many problems, it can be easy to get obsessed with how to fix (or avoid) as many of them as possible. The Sabbath is our weekly reminder that there is another world just around the corner. It is life-giving to our souls to stop our frenzied struggles, take a deep breath, and consider what the next home will be like. God has given us enough hints of beauty in our current “coffin” that point to something breathtaking when we rise anew in His Presence.
I would encourage you to take a few minutes this Sabbath to let your imagination take off. If you have children in the home, ask them what they think heaven will be like and tell them of some possibilities that might await. (When I had younger children I would tell them about rooms stuffed full of toys and candy, trusting that I was in the spirit of truth, if not the letter.) When I was a child, I was always captivated by the idea of flying—just stretching out both arms and taking off into the air to float for hours. I’m looking forward to that in heaven. Maybe for you it will be seeing old friends who have gone on before you. Or maybe it will be the moment you see the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, and the face of the King who has waited so patiently to greet you.
Whatever captivates your heart about your new home, let’s slow down enough on this Sabbath to indulge our imaginations. The chickens are poised on the edge of a new life, and in the time-perspective of all of eternity, so are we. And it will be so real, so amazing, and so all-consuming that all the pain and heartache of this world will fade away into an insignificant smudge, and perhaps be forgotten forever. The coffin world won’t endure, even in our memory. Endless day is about to break.
Take heart, my friends, we are almost home.