Righteousness and Ice-cream
Because I believe that Jesus will return and make this world better and that the redeemed of all ages will live here in God-imitating righteousness I believe that earth will keep its Jubilee (as the old hymn Jesus Saves says). Because I believe that, I agree with the old man in Irving Bacheller’s little book called Eben Holden when he described heaven in the terms that follow.
Old doctor Bigsby, so faithful to the community of Paradise Valley and so compassionate toward the sick, was out on a bitter, 30-below-zero wintry night that was simply too much for him. His horse brought him to David Brower’s house where “uncle” Eben Holden and his young nephew Billy were staying as permanent guests as well as workers. The doctor recovered for a few moments in the warmth but died with words of concern for some patient he had yet to visit.
“If a man oughter go to heaven, he had,” Eben said of the doctor.
“Think he’s in heaven?” Billy asked.
The uncle said there was no doubt about it and the boy asked what kind of place heaven was.
“To my way of thinkin’ it’ll be a good deal like David Brower’s farm—nice smooth land and no stun on it, an’ hills an’ valley’s an’ white clover aplenty, an’ wheat an’ corn higher’n a man’s head. No bull thistles, no hard winters, no narrer contracted fools; no long faces, an’ plenty o’ work. Folk sayin’ ‘How d’y do ‘stid o’ goodbye,’ all the while—comin’ sted o’ goin’. There’s goin’ t’ be some kind o’ fun there. I aint’ no idee what tis. Folks like it an’ I kind o’ believe ‘at when God gin a thing t’ everybody he thinks purty middlin well uv it.”
I believe that pretty well sums up the new heaven and earth phase of human living when the Christ returns to right all wrongs and set everything in order.
But beyond the joys and pleasures of full human life with golden harvests, fully loaded orchards and all the other forms of fruitfulness which the earth simply aches to produce—beyond all that, “heaven” will be that way of living where we’ll rejoice in doing righteousness and when we’ll find as much pleasure in being good as we find when enjoying the rewards of honest work and or the pleasures of good food and good company.
I can only imagine—and with difficulty—a coming time when I will enjoy doing the right thing for the right reasons as much as I enjoyed coming home from digging ditches when I was a young guy. I wish to find deep pleasure in being selfless, to find it thrilling to speak the truth openly and with the full intention of helping and not hurting. I usually eat breakfast early and it’s something I look forward to when I go to bed at night. I’d like to feel the same degree of pleasure in being kind and caring that I feel in having my cereal and wheaten bread in the quietness of the morning.
I experience that to some degree now and then but you can’t know how far I am from being where I wish to be in this matter. I don’t spend hours in the day dreaming of that level of spiritual maturity—I’m not that spiritually refined—but when I do reflect on it I feel both an awful dissatisfaction with myself and a deep hunger for the joy of doing right!
I’m looking forward to the day when Ethel can walk and is done with the years of chronic illness she has toiled with, I’m looking forward to the day when Death has been obliterated and the days when the planet is nurtured and pours forth all its gifts for all its peoples but in my better moments it’s Christ-likeness I want for me and mine, and others. I want the rich blessings and the disease-free and death-free life but sweet Lord Jesus I want to know the joy, the thrill, the pleasure of being a person of integrity, righteousness and holiness. I want more than doing and saying what is right—I want the sheer pleasure that comes along with all that.
I want to enjoy being righteous as I enjoy a good meal when I’m hungry or a great shower when I’m dirty. I want the pleasure in doing righteousness that I find when eating a bowl of vanilla ice-cream with a chocolate syrup covering.
Mmmm. Love the very thought of it!