Last Saturday morning I went for a run. No big deal, except that due to an injury, I hadn’t been able to run at all for about three months. I’ve not been running fast or far, but it has been very satisfying to be on the road again. When I finished, I sat down in the shade of a tree in our front yard. There was a gentle breeze, and it felt great. I must have looked pretty content because my neighbor across the street in his front yard yelled out to me, “Looks like you have a little slice of heaven there.” I responded with, “I sure do!”
While running I was thinking about the story of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of languages. These people wanted to reach heaven on their own with a tower. My neighbor’s comment got me thinking about heaven on earth. Mankind has always dreamed of creating a utopia on this planet. They’ve always wanted to bring all the nations together, create world peace and unity among all ethnic groups and cultures. But unlike that Coke commercial from long ago uniting everyone, the world hasn’t turned out that way. You may have noticed that we all don't link arms and sing songs with a Coke in our hands. That’s not reality.
The problem is, like those on the plains of Shinar in ancient Mesopotamia and their present-day counterparts who want to erase all borders so we can all just get along, they want to leave God out of the equation. Whether it’s a soft drink commercial from popular culture or the latest campus multicultural initiative, God is not included. In fact, He is specifically excluded, considered to be divisive.
But that doesn’t mean we can never experience a little slice of heaven on earth. Sometimes we experience unity among believers that gives us a taste of what heaven will be like when God finally brings together “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.”
I have experienced that; not sitting in my yard after a Saturday morning run, but while living in Hawaii. My first assignment as an active duty Navy chaplain was at a base chapel on a Naval Air Station in Hawaii. Tara and I often reminisce about that incredibly enriching experience. We moved our six towheaded kids from Southern Idaho to Hawaii. It was a fantastic cultural experience for them. For instance, our son Jonathan played little league football, and was the only white kid on the team. Quite a change from Idaho.
But the part that was so enriching for us was the chapel community that became our church family. We had a Bible study at our house, much like our Life Groups at VBC. It was well attended by people of many different nationalities. The military in Hawaii, like the rest of the state, has always had a way of attracting people of many different hues; thus, “The Rainbow State.”
Each Wednesday night our front porch was stacked high with shoes and slippers (flip flops) from believers who were Filipino, Japanese, Okinawan, Chinese, Vietnamese, African-American and Hispanic, along with a few of us Caucasians sprinkled in. We loved it, especially the variety of food and snacks. One particular Bible study night our Korean friends brought something that looked like eyeballs floating in sauce. Our kids wouldn't eat it until Tara tasted it and assured them it was quite good!
We look back on those days with great fondness. We had such a tight bond with each of those precious believers. The bond was not our nation, the military, or the fact that we lived in Hawaii. The bond was that we were brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. We look forward to the day when Christ comes back and reunites us. Only He can do that. Only He will. Until that time, we will always be grateful that we did get to enjoy a little slice of heaven on earth.