NOTEworthy October 25

My Flight for Heaven – Blake Henson

Charm me asleep, and melt me so
With thy delicious numbers,
That, being ravish’d, hence I go
Away in easy slumbers.
Ease my sick head,
And make my bed,
Thou power that canst sever
From me this ill,
And quickly still,
Though thou not kill
My fever.

[Thou sweetly canst convert the same
From a consuming fire
Into a gentle licking flame,
And make it thus expire.
Then make me weep
My pains asleep;
And give me such reposes
That I, poor I,
May think thereby
I live and die
‘Mongst roses.]

Fall on me like the silent dew,
Or like those maiden showers
Which, by the peep of day, do strew
A baptism o’er the flowers.
Melt, melt my pains
With thy soft strains;
That, having ease me given,
With full delight
I leave this light,
And take my flight
For Heaven.

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with heaven. As a child, I remember hearing about heaven at Sunday School. Of course, the teacher mentioned all things you do when talking about heaven with kids – about how God is there, and all the people you love, etc, etc. But there was one word that she used to describe heaven that really stuck with me –

Eternal.

That little idea of forever terrified me, and yes, you are connecting the dots correctly, I was terrified of heaven. Probably not what the teacher was going for with the lesson that day.

Forever, even a good forever can be terrifying, probably because it is beyond comprehension. By the simple fact that our lives have a starting point, we are doomed to never fully understand eternity. Since there is a time where we did not yet exist, we have not experienced and can’t fully comprehend eternity. I think we can understand eternity as a concept, but to imagine ourselves accurately in the situation of eternity is confounding.

Funny how it feels like we’ve found ourselves in a seemingly endless pandemic now.

I have days when I find it hard to imagine life after the pandemic, or I find myself so desperate for a bit of extraversion, I relive times with family and friends gone by. The terror of eternity that I would struggle with as a child, and now in this strange, fake eternity are the same though. When I was younger, I would imagine heaven and think, “Well wouldn’t I get bored?”

It was never really the eternity I was scared of – It was a long, unfulfilling present.

Living and being in the present might be the closest thing to eternity that we will get to experience in this life. Truth be told, it’s all we will ever experience. Fantasizing about the future or daydreaming of the past don’t actually take us there, it’s just a way we choose to spend the now.

In attempts to fight these urges, people flock to things like sports or music – things with no real-world purpose, but give us that sense of “flow” that brings us right to the present moment.

In Ecclesiates 3:11, it is said that God “has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from beginning to end.”

So maybe the great theologian Belinda Carter was right, “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” and that place is the present. Either way, it’s pretty good practice.

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!”
1 Chronicles 16:11

Andy Eaton
Director of Music
First Presbyterian Church

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