Treasure Valley Prays

Who Gets to Be a Saint?

What is heaven like?

Who gets to be there?

Here is what the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelation
says heaven will be like:

And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen!”

Worship! Eternal worship. Ugh.

I know people who start checking their watches the minute
they walk in the church door on a Sunday morning;
who can’t sit still for an hour of worship;
who get fidgety if the service goes five minutes over an hour.

How many times have you said to yourself,
“Gosh, we were just in church for Christmas Eve on Thursday;
we don’t really need to go to church again on Sunday, do we?
I mean, that’s like, twice in one week.”

So, Eternal worship—Uhg!—how could you stand it?

Wearing those starchy white robes,
and Mom forgot to bring any Cheerios for us
to string into a necklace—
what are we going to do if church lasts forever?

But read on, there’s more …

For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;

for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

…the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat…
Oh, now it’s sounding a little better.

Sounds like maybe heaven has the perfect climate:
like Tahiti, maybe;
heaven as a tropical paradise.

…they will hunger no more, and thirst no more…

Food, good food, and plenty of it;
no more worrying about what to put on the table,
or how to afford new clothes for the kids,
or how to pay the bills and make ends meet.
Not exactly Tahiti, maybe,
but a big relief for a lot of people.

…and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them…

Shelter—another basic human need.

No more homeless people living in cardboard boxes;
or maybe no more people living in extravagant mansions,
or maybe even no more middle-class suburbia,
while others live in shacks.

…for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

A world without sorrow? I can’t even imagine it.

The water of life, instead of this river of tears?

But who gets to enjoy all this heavenly splendor?

This is what the saints look like when they walk into heaven;
the seventh chapter of Revelation says,

They will hunger no more, and thirst no more—

which means, they walk into heaven
hungry and thirsty as any poor man can be.

The sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat—
which means, these poor souls
scraped out a living under the worst conditions,
struggled to get by,
wondered how to make ends meet,
tried to make sense of it all.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes—
which means, they walk into heaven teary-eyed,
this life behind them,
with nothing to show for it.

And God reaches out to these poor saints,
wipes away a tear, and says, Blessed are you.

Such ordinary, common things: poverty, misery, grief, hunger.

These are just ordinary people with nothing much to offer.

They could be anybody—
blessed are the ordinary, the real people,
who kept the faith, but weren’t anything like heroes at it,
another day, another dollar, and another prayer,
wiping their tears and licking their wounds,
as likely to need a blessing as be one to you,
and counting their leftover blessings
each night.

What is heaven like?

Who gets to be there?

The saints, the people who get to be there
are the people who never expected to be there,
the ordinary, the bumbling fools
who could only hope to be in the company of God.

So whose company should you be keeping now?

 

© Paul R. Olsen
2020-10-29

Paul Olsen

Paul Olsen

ELCA Pastor, King of Glory Lutheran Church
Boise, Idaho

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mary Braudrick

    Thank you for your dissection of these particular verses—into small & meaningful pieces. I see them more clearly now.

  2. Linda Ruth Worden

    Loved this! It made me laugh, and feel warm inside.

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