Bible sunlight

Follower of Christ: What is something about heaven that you look forward to the most?

Several years ago, one of my daughters and her family lived with us for fifteen months. They had the world’s two cutest girls ages four and three. If you ask my wife what was her favorite thing about that time she will quickly say it was when she came home from teaching and the girls were waiting at the top of our spilt level stairs with their irrepressible smiles and happiness unending. (And me? I loved the ever-available hugs and kisses.)

It was a fun, learning, memorable, and challenging time when all four of their family moved in with their dog and cat. Those four people became five before they moved on! It was not a negative time in any sense—and we are all very close today—but our Psalm this week has some parallels. Read Psalm 11 and see if you can see them.

Psalm 11 is a personal lament with a positive twist. David is clearly in the trenches of the tests of life and dependent on God. He starts with our essential affirmation when troubled: “In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain…?’” One paraphrase puts it this way, “I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of God so why would I run away now…” Sometimes, my faith and I want to head for the Smokies. And you?

The Spirit of God through David gives several certainties to build on the rock bed principle that God is our first refuge. First, “The LORD is in his holy temple” (v.4a). He is on His throne, He rules, and He sees what is going on (v. 4b). He is “Our Father who art in heaven” we often pray. Isn’t the point not that He is distant or unavailable but that He has not let go? That can be tremendous comfort when we need it most.

The second certainty has two sides. Verse five notes “The LORD tests the righteous, but [in contrast] His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Yikes, what does that say about violent games and movies? Yes, our transformation into greater Christlikeness is forged on the anvil of suffering and character trials. And yes, God hates those that persistently reject Him and pursue sin (Cf. Psalm 139:19-22). Yet, in God’s immeasurable gift of mercy and grace and love, He offers His own Son to rescue the wicked from their sin. How mysterious and wonderful!

Verse 7 gives our last certainty. “The LORD is righteous,” David says, and “He loves righteous deeds.” And then this zinger of a promise: “the upright shall behold His face” (v.7). God’s face has to do with His approval and actual presence. That’s what I am looking forward to the most (Cf. Revelation 22:4)!

My granddaughters’ faces every afternoon were a foretaste of that unimaginable, glorious day!