The Weekly Epistle 7/26/23

Dismay lays hold of the Christian’s heart when she looks for Heaven on Earth. Her heart aches with despair when the washing machine breaks (again), and she is left to wash the dirty underwear of her four little boys in the kitchen sink (again). Her heart floods with grief when her dream of owning a humble little home with a yard for her boys to play sinks under a sea of rising inflation. Her heart burns with anger as she wonders why God denied her the joy of having a little girl—then her heart utterly fails under the crushing guilt that comes with wondering why her four little boys are not enough. 

Dismay lays hold of the Christian’s heart when he looks for Heaven on Earth. His mind spins when the washing machine breaks (again) right after he fixed the dryer (again). His heart sinks as he watches his poor wife wash clothing where dishes ought to be washed, and he wrenches on the machine that should be doing the washing for her. His self-worth topples over as he considers that they cannot afford both a new washer and to pay the rent (let alone buy a house). 

In the 1980s, Belinda Carlisle sang, “Ooh, Heaven is a place on Earth.” Carlisle might have been a good singer, but she was a terrible theologian. Heaven is certainly not a place on Earth, and when we look for Heaven on Earth, we are bound to be dismayed. 

The psalmist sings, 
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
Whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 
They go from strength to strength,
                                      Till each appears before God in Zion.”                                                                                                             
(Psalms 84:5-7)

Hope overwhelms the Christian when she sets her heart on pilgrimage. Joy occupies the mind of the Christian when he sets his heart on pilgrimage. Their very presence turns places of despair into places of blessing. As they journey ever closer to the true Heaven—the Presence of God—they throw off the shackles of temporal despair and find strength and renewal. 

Maybe life is all peaches and cream right now. Or maybe you can relate to broken washers and sinks full of dirty underwear. Regardless, we’re all on pilgrimage. When we fight it, we are bound to encounter despair. When we embrace it, we are bound to encounter Jesus. 

Journeying alongside you,

Pastor Dan

P.S. Sorry to have gotten that song stuck in your heard!