No More Tears

After many years, the scene remains a great source of encouragement to me. I don’t remember what I was praying about or studying at the time, nor do I remember my own emotional state. I recall only that suddenly before me I saw God the Father seated upon His throne. I was in Heaven.

On His right side shelves adorned with ornate carvings at each corner stood as tall and magnificent as would be seen in any palace. Their end exceeded my line of sight. And on those shelves were bottles – yes, bottles – more than I could count.

They were beautiful, elaborately designed in every deep, rich color imaginable. The finest hand crafted stained glass windows in the world would appear faded and drab in comparison. Some of them had jewels attached, some were adorned with gold chains wrapped around their rounded bottoms or at the base of their long, cylindrical necks. And they were of every size – some very small, some very large, and some of every size in between.

“How odd,” I remember thinking, “God has a room He decorates with bottles, of all things.” I wondered if these bottles were somehow designed or crafted by His children. If He displays our handiwork like we do that of our own to assure them they did a good job and we are proud.

I wasn’t exactly right, but I was close.

Close to the throne on the left side, I would estimate only six to eight feet away, was a pool with a softly flowing current. My first thought was the relaxing lazy river rides at so many water parks. It was like a stream or slow flowing river, but in the floor of the throne room. The water was crystal clear. And like the shelves, this pool appeared endless. I imagined it must extend throughout all of Heaven itself.

Then I noticed the people. An extraordinarily long line of people. People young and people old. People fat and people thin. People from all around the world talking one with another as they waited their turn with Father. And you don’t want to miss what happened next.

I watched those folks one by one step up to the throne. Very close they came, looking God right in the eye. What did He do? God actually reached out and hugged every single one of them. He pulled each one close and held them as though He had waited for them a very long time.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15

They would weep – tears of relief, joy, and gratitude no doubt. As the embrace ended and they stood looking at Him once again, the most incredible thing took place.

The angel approached with a bottle in his hands and stood next to Father. I somehow knew the angel didn’t just randomly choose a bottle, but the one he brought forward was the one that belonged to the person now standing before God. I watched God reach out with both His hands and touch each person’s eyes. He then took the bottle from the angel, removed the ornate top, turned it upside down and poured its contents on the feet of that person.

The watery contents splashed over and around their feet and creating a puddle. In comparison to the bottles it was poured from, some were small, but some so large it appeared the very throne of God would certainly sink into the lake forming at its base. That wet patch then developed into a crystal clear water-filled path that led to the main pool. The person waded barefoot along the path to where the water ran gently around their feet and down a few steps into the lazy river. They travelled down the moving water to wherever this endless flow took them far beyond my scope of vision.

I saw so many people in that pool. Some standing to laugh and talk with passers-by, others jumping and dancing and rejoicing; still others just laying atop the water floating peacefully downstream.

As if noticing me for the first time, the angel looked at me as he headed to the throne with yet another bottle in his hands. Obviously aware of my wonder, he said simply, “Tear bottles.” Then it was gone. I was home again. Or awake. Or alert. Or whatever.

You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them. Psalm 56:8 CEV

They were not tears shed of anger or greed or not having our own way. They are tears shed because of legitimate sorrow and heartbreak, and tears shed on behalf of others. This is why the bottles were different sizes. Some of us suffer more than others. Some of us carry more of a burden for the lost and for the kingdom of God than do others. But all were rewarded and healed of the wounds.

And all were reminded there will be no more tears, ever.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

To make that promise sure, God reached over with His own hands and removed their tear ducts (okay, I’m taking some liberty here – but we won’t need tear ducts in heaven), thereby drying all their tears. Then He poured those tears out to be remembered no more, bringing to pass this promise:

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

I wish many times and again that I could describe it as I still see it. To explain the sheer magnitude of the love when God reached forward to hug each person. One by one, He took time for them, not rushing them along so He could hurry and get to the end of line. On the contrary. It was though He held each one until every iota of their pain was obliterated. Then, the happiness on each face as they joined the others in the pool. I can scarcely maintain composure even now just to write about it. I am so happy for everyone there. And knowing I’ll be there, too – indescribable joy.

Sometimes we deal with intense grief and sorrow. Most every day we deal with some level of disappointment about something. But soon that is all going to be put behind us never to be thought about again. How God will accomplish this only He knows. All we need to know is that He is going to.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Hopefully I’ll see you there. We’ll enjoy a dip in the pool together.

Won’t it be wonderful there? Having no burdens to bear.
Joyously singing with heart bells all ringing. O, won’t it be wonderful there?
James Rowe and Homer F. Morris, 1930

Till next time,
June

Some Facts About Fruit

Christians speak often about the importance of bearing good fruit, and important it is. Galatians 5 provides a faithful reminder of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
Fruit to be evident in our lives.

There seems to be something, though, not often included in our fruit-bearing training: what happens to the fruit once it is ripened on the tree. Through everyday experience and exposure, our great Teacher has enlightened me to some important truths about fruit.

For starters, it will be inspected. Just as we check for bruises, our lives will be examined. Like we squeeze to make sure the fruit is ripe and juicy, people will critique our attitudes and behavior. They will pay attention to how we respond to the world around us and situations in our lives.

Most of us don’t like that at all. We call it “judging”. Jesus expressed it as acceptable to evaluate one another’s actions when He said, “…for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)   Judging as we should not runs deeper, to the root.

Once our fruit has passed inspection the real fun begins. Somebody needs or wants it. We feel good about that, happy to be of service to the kingdom of God – until the reaping begins.

Think about how fruit is removed from a tree. Occasionally, a gentle hand reaches up in appreciation of its find and ever so carefully confiscates the needed nutrition. But that’s not the norm.

Usually It’s twisted, pulled, and plucked. Often the tree is violently shaken until the coveted fruit falls to the ground where it can be easily gathered.  Remaining joyful or gentle is seldom easy. I’m sure you can think of at least one someone who has tried your patience and pushed your self-control to its limit.

Feel like you’ve been pulled on, plucked, and shaken?

And that’s not all.  Think about what you do with your own fruit once you get it home.

It gets chopped, diced, and drained. It is pulverized into smoothies or smashed into juice. As if that’s not bad enough, sometimes it just sits until it rots, after which it becomes food for the sharp blades of a garbage disposal or thrown in the trash.

I used to get angry about the way people treated my fruit once they removed it from this tree. You know you’re feeling this same way when thoughts of being taken advantage of and unappreciated cross your mind.

There may be times when the Holy Spirit will direct you to back away, at least for a while. But make sure the Holy Spirit is the Director. Too often when we feel like our good nature is being abused and misused, we fence it off or stop producing altogether.
We are to yield the fruit, not dictate what happens to it. When it gets tough, God’s grace is sufficient to see us through.

One more thing. The tree doesn’t choose who gets the fruit. It’s usually easy to love those we deem lovable, to be gentle with those we are fond of, and patient with those we care about.

Yet, those to whom it is harder to offer fruit are often those who need it most. The lack of love, joy, and peace in their own lives is frequently manifested by nasty, hostile behavior. Letting them consume your fruit may be the very thing that initiates a change of heart.

After pondering these truths you might wonder if bearing fruit is really worth the effort.
It is.  You see, we have promises of great reward when we bear fruit.

John 15:16 records one such promise spoken by Jesus, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Wow! Anything we ask in Jesus name can be ours if we maintain a fruitful life. Anything in line with His word, yes, but that includes everything we need and could ever desire – plus some!

And the greatest payment of all for our fruit? It makes us more like Christ.

Till next time –
June