A recent letter to the editor of Lutheran Witness includes a delightful example of the wondrous glory of childhood simplicity.
When our four-year-old son . . . saw a bird outside the window, he commented “I wish I were a bird with wings so I could fly up to heaven and talk to Jesus.” [His parents] asked what he would say to Jesus if he were a bird. His simple reply . . . “Tweet, tweet.”
How gloriously innocent. So unpretentious and joyously pure. I think this captures the essence of what Jesus was referring to when he said “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4, ESV).
C.S. Lewis discussed the innocence of children in his essay “The Abolition of Man.” He is discussing the monolithic power of society, or government, in reshaping what it means to be human. God preserve us from those who would redefine and eradicate the very qualities of humanity Jesus praised.
Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man. The battle will then be won. . . . But who, precisely, will have won it? For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please. . . .
Hitherto the plans of educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted and indeed, when we read them—how Plato would have every infant “a bastard nursed in a bureau,” and Elyot would have the boy see no men before the age of seven and, after that, no women, and how Locke wants children to have leaky shoes and no turn for poetry—we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses.
But the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.
When you and I stand in the presence of God, our adult words will vary. We’ll all drop to our knees—some in adoration, others perhaps in fear—but what will we say?
I can imagine some of the words that will come to our lips.
“Why did you allow . . ?”
“I love you.”
“I despise you because . . ?”
Or, perhaps, “Why did you delay so long?”*
I suspect we will probably be speechless. Certainly, at first. There’s a song that captures well the mystery that awaits us when we find ourselves face to face with our Creator. It’s more in spirit with the response of the young child who simply tweeted out his greeting to God.
Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing ‘Hallelujah!’? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! I can only imagine!
We used to sing this song at chapel services in southwest Asia. I have often thought it would be very meaningful to record this song in my own voice, to be played at my own funeral (should the Lord tarry).
That’s not nearly as morbid as some might think. It’s a song of praise, awe and wonder, in my rendition I would end it with the words “I no longer imagine,” for my faith in God will have given way to sight.
* The answer to that question is actually found in the Scriptures. From the third chapter of Peter’s second epistle:
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 thoughts on “Face to Face with God”
“Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man.” No truer words have ever been written?
Once in His presence, all I can think to do is smile. He knows what’s in hearts. He knows the frailty of man. He said we will be received and welcomed to his table. He said then we will understand. Pretty nice to be finally home.
Yes, it will be a wonderful homecoming. And he’s even going to host a feast!
Great article. Loved the little boys comment, “Tweet. Tweet.” How gloriously innocent and simple. I believe from the first, “Lord, I don’t know how to pray,” we’ve already begun to pray.
So true. If only those who feel so very far from God understood that he knows the cries and tears of their suffering… they would understand all he wants is their honest words. “Religious eloquence” usually gets in the way of true prayer.
Thanks for reminding me of that passage from 2 Peter. That’s an excellent reminder of the difference between our time and God’s. And to always be prepared!
I have to remind myself of that fact fairly often. Waiting for answers to prayer, praying for the ill and suffering, etc. But, I also reminder that God is always faithful, and keeps his promises.
Not bad writing for an umeducated fisherman! Beautiful post, thanks!
He must have learned a few things about communicating when he was following Jesus.
Good morning…This is the first time, I have thought about responding to your log….I love that song! What a confirmation that God can make something beautiful out of our lives…no mater how torn and broken. But when I pressed ‘like’ they wanted my password. I’m not sure if it was my facebook password or another one. Please tell me how to respond. Thanks, Shirlee
Shirlee, thanks for the comment. I’m glad that song was meaningful to you also. I wish I could help with the password question, but there should be some clue there where they are requesting it. If you’re trying to comment through facebook, that might be the issue. In that case, you might enjoy knowing when each post appears (usually two each week), it’s probably best to follow Mere Inkling by “subscribing” by using the link at the top of the right hand column.
So good! I really need to read more of Lewis’ work. Besides his fantasy and sci-fi, I’ve only read Screwtape Letters and part of Mere Christianity.
You definitely won’t be disappointed!
I am rediscovering The Screwtape Letters as I have assigned it as homeschool homework to my 10th grader. So pithy. In a word, the Future is the least like Eternity – for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays”.
It certainly holds up well, despite how long ago it was written. Guess that the enemy’s tactics generally remain the same… because we human beings are who we are.