When I went to Kenya in 2009, I came back with so many stories in my head of people I’d met, of conversations I’d had. There just didn’t seem like enough time to write them all down, but it’s funny how God reminds me of them at the most opportune moments.
There was one day, we were riding in a van in who knows what city, and I was sitting next to these two women who were speaking rapidly in Kikuyu, gesturing to me as they talked. So, assuming they were talking about me in a language I couldn’t understand for a reason, I turned to focus on the fields and trees we were bumping by on our way to the primary school we were going to visit.
All of the sudden one of the women turns to me and says, “My friend tells me that America is just like heaven.”
I paused, confused whether she was stating a fact or asking me a question…and still processing the fact that she could speak English this entire time.
“Why did she say that?” I asked.
“Well she says it is so clean over there. With good roads, and money, and nice houses. Not like here. Not like here at all.”
My heart sank. Yes, it is “cleaner” where I live. Yes, we have better roads. Yes, there are nice houses. No, America is not like Kenya…
This week I had the privilege of attending the Passion conference in Atlanta. It was refreshing and challenging, and just much needed. On Tuesday night, Chris Tomlin came on stage to lead us in worship. He said that as he traveled around the globe for Passion world tour last year, he tried to learn “How Great Is Our God” in whatever language that was spoken in whatever country they were in. His dream had been to bring worship leaders from around the world to sing it all together one day.
And that’s just what we did. We listened, and joined in, as “How Great Is Our God” was sang by worship leaders from South America, Asia, and a beautiful Ugandan children’s choir.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but think of that lady in the van. When she said that America was just like heaven, I explained to her that there were just as many unhappy people in America as there were in Kenya. That the things you have, the place you live, the money you make…America is living proof that those things do not last. Those things cannot sustain you.
But God…isn’t it great how so many redeeming verses in the bible begin with those two words? But God can sustain you.
So, as I stood in the Georgia dome with 44,000 college students singing “How Great is Our God” in over six different languages, I thought to myself…
This is just like heaven.
These are the moments when you want to freeze time even though you know that all the seconds you would gain wouldn’t be enough to fully appreciate the beauty of the moment. These are the moments when you see people come together in such a big way that you know the Father is pleased. As Louie said, “The global church. Man, if we could just get a hold of that.”
To me, these moments are the closest thing to heaven that I can grasp. And it doesn’t have a single thing to do with where I am living, or the amount of money I have, or the job I’m working, or the clothes I’m wearing. It has everything to do with Him and when we actually follow through with God’s prayer “on earth as it is in heaven.” Being people of love, and bringing Him glory.
And the best part is, as wonderful as these moments are, they pale in comparison to the joy we’ll experience then. When it’s no longer just like heaven, but it is heaven.