They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.
Early one summer morning, my sister Jay and I drove down to the little Maryland farming community of Sykesville to visit Grandma Clark. She wasn’t really our grandmother. She and Jay had become friends at the tiny stone church on the hill, and we had been invited to her big farmhouse for tea. I wheeled into the kitchen and was greeted by the delicious aroma of a freshly baked cake. Grandma had placed crisp white linen on a table by an open window. A breeze lifted the lace curtains and wafted in the scent of roses.
As Jay and I sipped tea from delicate cups, my eyes followed Grandma Clark. She leaned back, smoothed the tablecloth with her hand, and spoke of heaven in grand and wistful terms.
A gust of wind suddenly whipped the curtains, tossing her gray hair. She held up her hand, smiling and squinting against the breeze. Whoosh!—it eddied around the table, dizzying and lifting our spirits. The moment was delightfully strange. But as quickly as it came, it vanished, settling us back down and becoming timeless, leaving in its wake peace and joy. I can still taste the cake and the tea, smell the spring ﬂowers, and see dapples of sunlight on linen.
Moments like these become instantly nostalgic, reminding us of some other time or place. We say the same of childhood memories: Lazy, late afternoons licking Popsicles on a back step, listening to a lawnmower up the street, and feeling a breeze cool our brow. Or running out the screen door after dinner to collect ﬁreﬂies. Or hugging our knees by a campﬁre, watching the sparks fly upward, becoming stars. If we could be transported back, we’d discover that even as children we felt the same nostalgia, the “remembering” of another time or place.
It’s a yearning to pass through and reach the other side, as C.S. Lewis said. These moments—whether having tea on a spring afternoon or licking Popsicles and feeling safe—are whispering, “One day you’ll bathe in peace like this…satisfaction will shower you…this joy will last forever.” This is what we feel as children. It’s another hint of heaven, like choosing the happiest point in your life and having time stand still.
In the light of my depraved appetites, I can barely imagine ecstasy going on forever. It’s always something I want to grasp, but can’t. I hear inklings in Dvorak’s New World symphony. I glimpse it in the soft gaze of someone I love. I smell it in the air at the ocean when the sky is gray and violent in the distance. I felt it once when I was nine years old, holding onto the guardrail by the Grand Canyon because if I let go, I was certain I would ﬂy away across the wide expanse.
If these are mere omens, what will the real thing be like?
What’s more, the pleasure and the joy will continue to increase in heaven. The unfolding of the story of redemption will have us taking one gasp after another, our joy and amazement ever increasing.
And it can start now. Make a memory today. It’ll be a memory of heaven. A touch of holiness in a hidden place.
Joni Eareckson Tada appears on LIFE TODAY this Tuesday. Excerpted from Finding God In Hidden Places by Joni Eareckson Tada. Copyright ©2020 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published by Harvest House Publishers. Used by permission.