Bust of Pericles in the British Museum, London, England

How a ride on an elevated train reminded me of heaven

In June and July of this year, I got to go to Scotland and England. I can tell you it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I’m a history buff. Always have been. And it was so strange to walk around a corner in the British Museum and come face to face with a sculpture I read about in a history textbook in junior high. But to a certain extent, I expected that in the United Kingdom. I had prepared myself for facing the reality of Scotland and England, grasping that what I had only read about and seen photos of was actually real.

I didn’t expect to experience the same sensation in Chicago.

That’s where I am as I write this blog post this morning, Chicago. Downtown in a swanky hotel. I’m here for the week for a media event for work. I’ve never been to Chicago before, unless you count the airport, and thus far I really like it. It’s a beautiful city, even though most drivers seem to be a little horn-happy. But as I was riding the Blue Line into downtown from O’Hare, I sat in my seat and realized something.

The “L” really does exist. And it looks exactly like it does in The Fugitive. That movie, starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, was one of my favorites growing up, and I realized that the elevated train I was riding in really reminded me of the one where the shoot out takes place between Dr. Richard Kimball and the one-armed man who killed his wife toward the end of the movie. Maybe it’s a silly revelation, but getting to ride on that train solidified in my brain that what happened in that movie wasn’t all a figment of Hollywood’s imagination. Why? Because I experienced it for myself. I didn’t just take the movie’s word for it. I rode an elevated train myself.

And as I rocked along in my seat on the way to downtown Chicago this afternoon, I couldn’t help but rejoice in eager anticipation of another day that’s coming soon, where I won’t have to rely on my imagination anymore.

Bust of Pericles in the British Museum, London, England

Bust of Pericles in the British Museum, London, England

Today’s verse is 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.

If you’re a follower of Christ, you believe in the bigger picture. You know God has a plan. You know He’s working everything out for our good. You know that this world isn’t our home, and we’re just passing through. Right? You know all those things. But there’s a big difference between knowing them and seeing them, between hearing about them and experiencing them for yourself. Someone can tell you over and over and over again that heaven exists, that there will be no sorrow, that there will be no pain, but how are we supposed to grasp something like that without experiencing it? How are we supposed to wrap our heads around what heaven is when we can’t even wrap our heads around the fact that God loved us enough to let us in for free?

This isn’t what I really planned to post today, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. In this world right now, we don’t see things they way they were meant to be seen. We don’t see God the way He was meant to be seen. The dirt and dust and muck of the world blinds us and makes it difficult to see. But a day is coming when all of that will be cleared away and we won’t have trouble seeing anymore. And all the whys and hows won’t matter because we’ll understand exactly what their purpose was.

It wasn’t yesterday, but it might be today. And if it’s not then, it might be tomorrow. You never know, but God has promised that the day is coming, and God always keeps His promises.  

So, yes, right now our promised eternal life doesn’t make sense. It’s like watching Harrison Ford shoot at a one-armed man on an elevated train in Chicago. We’re just taking the filmmaker’s word that elevated trains really look like that, really move like that, really have people in them like that. But one day, when you get to go to Chicago, you’ll see for yourself that elevated trains really do look exactly like that.

The day is coming when we won’t have to take God’s word on what heaven is like.  On that day, we’ll get to experience it for ourselves. And that’s enough to make me smile this morning.

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