When I first heard that we’d get golden crowns in Heaven, I was pretty excited. Then someone told me as soon as I got mine, I’d want to throw it down at God’s feet, and I remember thinking, “I wonder if he’d notice if I held onto mine.” I knew I’d feel very grateful and worshipful in Heaven, but still…a golden crown! Full of jewels for all of my good deeds, no less! And it’s not like God would need it…
Fast forward many years. Stephen and I were proudly reporting how sweetly Abby shared her treats with us, offering us the last of her Smarties or agreeing when I asked for her only red Skittle. My mom observed, “Why wouldn’t she be generous? She knows there’s always more where that came from.”
Our conference in Orlando ended with all of us standing and singing “Holy, Holy, Holy.” I thought of Abby as I belted out the second verse: “Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.” And all of a sudden it clicked.
Body restored and uncorrupted. Brain focused and fully alive (what is that unused 90% capable of, anyway?). Creative, interesting, satisfying work to do. Banquets prepared with the best food and wine. Relationships to deepen and develop. Conversations to linger for decades. Beauty to explore and to experience, music to enjoy and to create, knowledge to discover and to understand. And in the center of it all, Jesus, ruling over a kingdom where everyone and everything works just as it was created to work.
Every need fulfilled to abundance. Why would I be stingy with a crown? How wonderful to be free of that part of my nature that feels the need to grasp, to hoard, to self-protect! How freeing to live like a child who never wants for anything, who is completely satisfied–body, soul, spirit– with the life she’s been given by her generous and loving Father and King!
For a few days after I got home I enjoyed this mental picture, and pined for Heaven a little more than usual.
But this thought became a little less comfortable the more I rolled it around in my brain. A few verses came to mind:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” (2 Pet. 2:3)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 1:3)
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more cloth you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:30-33)
“No good thing does [the Lord God] withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Ps. 84:11)
Obviously, I’m not living in Heaven yet. But I am still living under the protection of that same loving Father and King, who makes these promises in the present tense. Yes, it’s more complicated here, because the world is broken and my heart and mind are clouded, but the principle at the bottom of it all is clear: God will give me what I need. And even on a really whiny day, I know that he’s given me a lot more than that.
So when God gives me something good and then I hold onto it with a white-knuckled grip, telling him “YOU CAN’T HAVE IT! IT’S MINE!”, it’s as ludicrous as heavenly Lindsey sneaking away with the golden crown, or greedy Abby shoving all the Skittles into her mouth so Daddy can’t eat one. Even when it’s my money. Or my free time. Or my kids. It’s not mine, not any of it. So I should receive gifts with gratitude and humility, knowing that God gives and takes away, but that “there’s always more where that came from.” And I can trust God to do right by me.
You can see why this thought was less fun. But here’s the truth: How wonderful to be free of that part of my nature that feels the need to grasp, to hoard, to self-protect! How freeing to live like a child who never wants for anything, who is completely satisfied–body, soul, spirit–with the life she’s been given by her generous and loving Father and King!
Now to live like I believe this is true.