The Unfathomable Joy Of Heaven
For the one or two or twelve of you regular readers out there, you'll probably know I've never done what you'd call a Picture Post ... one made up of just pictures and descriptions. That's about to change.
Some months ago, I was at a meeting at which Paul Burleson was also in attendance. He'd explained, in addressing that meeting, how he and his wife frequently gave thanks for their meal in a manner unknown by the "Frozen Chosen" .. with eyes open, and praising & thanking God to each other, and to God. I happened to stumble into him, sitting alone and having breakfast the next morning, so I sat and ate with him. And we thanked God for the food in the manner he'd described.
If you've never had CHURCH while saying the blessing .. I mean a real hootenanny .. you don't know what you've missed.
Anyway, we got to talking about laying up treasures in Heaven. He shared a view that the relationships we build here, with our fellow believers, are, and will be forever, those treasures in Heaven. And, what treasures they will be!
I agree, and I decided to put up some pics here, to show some of the relationships God has sent our way, over the past few years. So here goes.
The picture following is of (L to R) Larry & Cynthia Smith, Neal Blackwelder, Me, Debbie Blackwelder, and Peg. It was taken at the Morgan Harbour Restaurant in Kingson, Jamaica (actually Port Royal), on the evening the USA invaded Iraq. Which also happened to be Peg's birthday, 2003. And the day the Federal Prosecutors invaded HealthSouth Corporation here in Birmingham.
I remember that because I'd walked out to the end of the pier there, to get some pictures, and our younger son Brad called me on my cell phone to tell me of those two little invasions.
Invasions, dinner (looking across Kingston Harbor at the city, lit by the setting sun), anniversaries, fellowship, good stuff. But the best thing that happened that evening was the guy in the yellow shirt in the next picture .. the Dockmaster at the Morgan's Harbor Hotel .. prayed and asked Jesus to save him. Only God knows his heart, but I figure I'm apt to see him in Heaven, too.
One the first families I met in Jamaica was the Bethune family ( that's Merrick, the dad, in my profile photo up there..). The following is a picture of me and Keri-Ann, whom I met when she was about seven. She sat next to me in church, and we clapped each other's hands .. she read out of my bible (she didn't have one, which I fixed shortly thereafter), sang songs she turned to in the tattered old hymnal .. and she captured my heart. One of the joys of my life has been watching her grow into a fine professional lady .. a High School Math Teacher, and Wedding Planner on the side.
The next photo is one of Red Hills Member Kevin Borland, and Deacon Percival Douse, as fine as any men I've ever met. Kevin often plays drums there, with an abandon and an enthusiasm that seems, sadly, rare in churches here.
Deacon Douse is a retired Brickmason, and has been for the 16 years or so I've known him. He lives abut 1-1/2 miles from the church, steeply uphill, and he walks there. Twice on Sundays. Such a gentleman, but also industrious in retirement; every time we've ever been there (six times, so far) on a work crusade, he's been there every day.
A privilege to know these guys.
Last, here's me with Carlene Byfield (L) and Natalie (we call her "Patches")Larmand (R), kids I've also watched grow up. Every time I look at this picture, I see nothing but joy on faces, and I can tell you it wasn't "posed happiness", either. It was the real McCoy.
There are lots of others, of course, but space and my carpal tunnel suggests this is enough. And they're surely enough to grasp the thought that we're going to spend eternity in Heaven, worshiping the King of Kings (of course), but we'll also have the privilege of fellowship with folks like these, who are already a joy for me to be around. And we will always have done, what we did here, that may have contributed to each others' lives.
Which makes what we do in our Lord's work, here, just that much more precious.
That's Jamaica .. stay tuned for some pics from Russia, Latvia, the USA, and who knows where....