Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Tea

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the summons to go out to a place which he would eventually possess...

For Abraham’s eyes were looking forward to that city 
with solid foundations 
of which God himself is both
architect and builder.
Hebrews 11:10 Phillips translation

I was recently curled up on my living room sofa reading when... for some reason... I found myself admiring the pretty wreath which was a "picked out by me" Christmas gift from my husband.

The room looked lovely as the light of the setting sun was reflected through the window.  For a moment, I was overwhelmed by it all and the phrase The Beautiful Ache came to my mind.  It must have been planted there at some time long ago in my reading.

I've had those same feelings before... a few years ago, we were on our way home from New England in October.  As we traveled through the forests of  Pennsylvania and Western Ohio, the sun was shining in such a way the color of the leaves seemed to glow. 

I felt that Beautiful Ache as I thought my finite body could not handle such amazing Beauty.  I was breathless and certain I would perish from an overflow of praise to God for His creation!  How could one say there was no Creator when viewing such Beauty?

In both instances, I longed for the Day when all will be made new just as the Word says "even the rocks and the trees call out" and "all nature groans" as we await Perfection. 

The older I get, the more my mind ponders all things Heavenly and Eternal and Beautiful and Perfect.  I sense more than ever that Due North destination and it encourages me on the journey of life, which can be difficult at times.

When I was a fairly new Christian, I remember a famous preacher putting down those who sang the songs of Heaven.  He taught that we should have enough faith so this life is good instead of longing for that which is to come.  Somehow, even as one who had not walked with the Lord very long, I sensed this could not be correct.

The famous "Faith Chapter" of Hebrews 11 tells us some in the Faith Hall of Fame (as the chapter is often called) received their promises here and others went to Eternity before receiving their promise.  Just as Abraham searched for that city "whose architect and builder is God".

Somehow we know in our heart that we live in the Shadowlands.  We sense there is more, we long for more, we are a dissatisfied people who cannot become full or get enough of anything outside of Him.  We are aware of our fragility and our finiteness.

We have sensed this is just the down payment... a little glimpse of that for which our soul longs.  I understand those songs of the church about Heaven, so often sung in little churches throughout the world by those in the midst of despair.

Perhaps it is only in a country of abundance that a preacher could call singing the songs of Heaven a lack of faith.  For only when one is warm and dry and comfortable and well fed does one cozy up to this world and never want to leave it... that is if one knows the Savior of the world.

One of my favorite C.  S. Lewis quotes comes from his book Mere Christianity... "If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world".

I would say when our finite bodies and minds are overwhelmed at the best this world has to offer... yes, indeed... we were created for another world and we gladly sang the songs of Heaven where that which is The Beautiful Ache becomes as normal as walking on streets of gold.

Artwork:  He Shall Hear My Voice... this exact picture hangs in my dining room.  :)


Anonymous said...

The famous "Faith Chapter" of Hebrews 11 tells us some in the Faith Hall of Fame (as the chapter is often called) received their promises here and others went to Eternity before receiving their promise. Just as Abraham searched for that city "whose architect and builder is God".

What do you think the Promise is?

Marge said...

I love that C.S. Lewis quote....we know we were created for another world! And I love the phrase The Beautiful Ache. I've not heard it before, but I sure have felt it.

Blessings to you on this Sunday morning!

Mrs.Rabe said...

That is a beautiful painting, how wonderful to be able to look at it everyday!

We watched an old BBC film "Through the Shadowlands" the other night about C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. It was slow moving but good.

I believe that just as things in the OT were a shadow of what was to come (Jesus) so this life is also a shadow of what is to come! That is worth looking forward too!


Anonymous said...

If we are going to have all tears wiped away one day, how can we not long for THAT which is to come?? We need to be grateful for what we can, enjoy what we can, love so much as we can here...but I think ALL things here are just preparation for our REAL HOME one day. Nice thoughts you share...thanks.
Elizabeth in NC

Vee said...

There is that quote that tops my home page which comes to mind... We create home because He created a home. His is far greater than our own, still, I can wait, though there have been times of great yearning in my own life for more. More of what He has for me. Your description of the autumn leaves reminds me also of the Edna St.Vincent Millay poem "God's World."

Thank you for another edifying and thought-provoking post. A wonderful Sunday to you!

Ann said...

I, too, from time to time have experienced such fleeting moments of beauty that I can hardly digest it all and I think of the promises of our Father who has prepared a place of wonder and beauty for us in eternity. How blessed we are when the chaos of daily life does not overwhelm us and we can see.

Anonymous said...

This post mesmerized me. With your permission I would like to print it out just for myself and so I could read and reread it as time goes on. There is so much sweet truth in it. Sarah

Terri said...

I love that phrase "The Beautiful Ache"...Now I know what to call it when I am overwhelmed with the great beauty I sometimes stand in awe of.

I also like the statement that even though a new Christian you knew the preacher was wrong. Sometimes 'new' Christians are I think far more in tune with God than those who have walked and become jaded by earth and heaven alike. I try hard to cultivate that childlike awe and wonder and ability to hear but sadly fail too often.

Karen Andreola said...

It's Monday morning and I am greeted with your thoughtful writing. "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in his wonderful face, And the things of this world will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace, " is a beautiful old hymn that I caught my husband humming on the way to church yesterday. Yes, as we get older we, like you, we are looking toward heaven. Two simple songs I would teach at Sunday school had to do with heaven - for the Kindergarten class. It isn't only grown-ups who could use the comforting reminder.
Karen A. in Penn

Cheryl (copperswife) said...

A beautiful post, Brenda. I love now having a term to describe something I've experienced so many times - the beautiful ache. Perfect!

Front Porch Grace said...

I wonder if you have read "The Beautiful Ache" by Leigh McLeroy?

I have not, but your eloquent term for that overwhelming yearning set me out on a search, and I wondered if you had.

I have experienced that moment you describe as the "beautiful ache." I was in the Smoky Mountains hiking up a trail beside this glorious creek full of rapids and small waterfalls. I was overcome. Everything within me yearned to go "home" all of a sudden. I was not stressed, I was not even thinking of anything other than, "Father, your creation is glorious," when that feeling washed over me. It was bigger and more intense than my finite mind has words to describe. It was indeed a "beautiful ache." (Interestingly enough, I was with my father who is not a believer, but certainly a nature lover.)

I have never heard or read anyone share such an experience before or since, until your post.

Thank you.
In His Grace,

suzanne said...

Brenda, I can honestly say that I look forward to your blog every single day. I compare your blog to a comforting blanket I can wrap myself up in after I come home from work. There is safety here, loving words, praising words, and so much wisdom! I will be a constant encourager, in hopes that you will press on and continue to write posts such as this last one. "A beautiful ache" kindly and gently point us in that right direction. May God bless you and keep you.