Sunday, 20 September 2015
Her raspberry stained face gave me a glimpse into heaven
From a distance I saw her canopied stroller parked near my neighbour's bountiful and mouth watering garden. The chair was turned so her face was hidden from me. But as I got nearer I could tell the stroller's occupant was straining her neck to see me atop my tractor. Finally, I was in her full view and when I waved she returned my wave with such enthusiasm that I felt compelled to stop, dismount and say 'hi'. I was surprised when I got closer - her face was covered in raspberry juice! Her two tiny teeth were fully exposed as she smiled and welcomed me with her eyes. She had been eating berries as she watched her 'grandmother' harvest the patch's bounty. There was a peace - a certain contentment - that flowed from her eyes. And she was only a toddler.
This little girl is my temporary neighbour - she is in the foster care of a couple who have been given special appointment by God to nurture and love her while a permanent home can be found. Lydia (not her real name) arrived as an infant at the home of this couple, (whose children are now adults and living away from home), and is being raised as one of their own. While under their care affection is rendered and correction doled out in ways any parent would give their child if he or she were one of their own. Lydia isn't their first child whom they are fostering - she is one of many that have been blessed within the walls of her 'Oma and Opa's' (Dutch for Grandma and Grandpa) century old farm house.
Content to sit and watch while Oma picked berries; she patiently waited for a berry (or five) from Oma's outstretched hand. Eagerly, she shoved them into her mouth and savoured their sweet taste while waiting for just one more. Without a worry in the world, Lydia was enjoying a feast of berries under the watchful eyes and protective hands of one who loves her unconditionally. It was Lydia's messy, smiling face - her nose, lips, and chin smeared with raspberry juice - combined with the loving foster care provided by her substitutionary Oma that gave me a glimpse of what I imagine heaven to be like.
Here's why. Leviticus 23 records seven feasts, such as the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of First Fruits, and the Feast of Tabernacles. David writes, in Psalm 23:5, about God preparing a table or feast for us. Jesus uses the occasion of a feast at a wedding to perform his first miracle in John 2. In fact, the Bible has 170 references to feasts - 140 in the Old Testament and 30 in the New Testament! And, the Apostle Paul refers to our being adopted as sons and daughters to God through Jesus many times in his letters, such as in Ephesians 1:5. Two important and recurring themes - feasts and adoption by God through Christ - run unmistakably clear the Bible.
So, the next time you need to wipe your face after eating a rack of ribs, a juicy watermelon, a melting ice cream cone, or even when you have to wipe a child's face, remember the feast we'll enjoy for eternity in heaven. Together, you and I as adopted brothers and sisters fostered with God's infinite love, our brother Jesus, and God - our adoptive father - we'll eat an unending course of raspberries, pineapples, grapes, and nectarines! Just hold the cantaloupe (or musk melon). I can't imagine that it will taste better... even if it's on heaven's menu!
There are moments when you can't help but just laugh. Take the time when my wife, Wendi, texted me and asked where I was. Apparently...