I Can Only Imagine


The summer Sunday began on a busy note, but the heart was still filled with hopes, dreams and plans.

Change was on its way. It drew near, skittering toward me on the road of life, like golden-red leaves dancing their way up a bare path, signaling autumn. I convinced myself I was good with change though. I had survived for years with no more earthly possessions than could fit on my back and in one hand, leaving the other free—symbolic of my desire to always be available to help another. That was no longer realistic (what parent could fit all they had in one hand, or even two, when those hands are holding children?) yet my desire to always be able to reach out to others remained with me.

Yet as I took a deep breath in the warm, still air, my heart felt as heavy as the moisture that dampened my clothes and made my morning task of entertaining a crowd of children more than a little taxing.

Fear loomed near. For so long, there had been nothing I was afraid of losing. I knew my life was in God’s hands, as were the lives of those I loved. Things would work out; they always did. Today I wasn’t sure, because there was one thing.

Dear Lord, only one thing I could not bear to part with. I would be willing to let go of anything else; just let me keep this.

But the winds of change blew nearer.

I kept my actions busy with the responsibilities of the day until I had the moment to share a plan, an idea. A hope to keep hold of that precious treasure. By the end of the morning, I realized it wasn’t going to work. That which I feared most had come upon me. The only thing I felt I could not let go of, would have to be left behind. The cold realization smacked against me like a raging wall of salt water waves, and my eyes were left stinging at the assault.

Yet it was not time to cry, so my smile masked the tears, until the drive home that afternoon. The jeep was full of people, one of whom volunteered their MP3 player to liven up the journey. After the long morning out in the muggy sun, most of them began drifting to sleep, but I could not.

Why? I raged in my heart. I finally have something I can hold on to, and call my own. Why do I have to let go of the only thing I ever feared losing?

A tear escaped as a song ended on the player, and another one began.

The soft piano intro crept into my heart, bidding me breathe, wishing me peace. I stopped raging, and listened.

I can only imagine…

The song began

What it will be like, when I walk by your side

Heaven. The place we have always been promised there would be no pain, no sorrow, no tears—the tears that now began in earnest to fight their way to the surface.

I can only imagine what my eyes will see when your face is before me

Something inside me broke and I could no longer hold back the tears. A promise of the beauties of heaven, so precious, so wonderful, that I could spend my whole life dreaming up what its beauties could be, and I still wouldn’t be able to comprehend even a percentage of its eternal glory.

And it would be reality for me … One day.

I can only imagine.

Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?

What indeed? Would the sorrow that threatened to engulf me even be remembered? Or would they recede like the darkness against the morning’s dawn?

Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of you be still?

To be presented, eternally, with those things I had sacrificed during life’s brief journey … I think I just might dance.

Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall?

I’ve often pictured myself, in prayer, kneeling before my Lord, my King. I once again knelt before him now.

Will I sing hallelujah or will I able to speak at all?

Perhaps that moment entering a forever of love and wonder will warrant nothing other than a silent worship of praise and joy. My heart spoke now its silent vow of surrender to His purpose once more.

I can only imagine.

A place where the cleansing tears of sorrow mingled with surrender will be gently wiped away by the hand that bore the blame of this world’s wrongs.

The hand that was now guiding me, leading me, and bestowing strength to follow.

The song continued and ended with the hope that only eternity can promise.

For this life will always hold its bittersweet blend.

Joy mingled with sorrow.

Despair mixed with hope.

Gifts promised with sacrifice.

Meetings along with goodbyes.

But Heaven:

The sweet without the bitter.

The joy without the pain.

Embracing and never having to let go.

I can only imagine.

One day it will be reality

and it will last forever.

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