I don’t know about you but from the earliest I can remember in my religious education the goal was to get into heaven. As I look back, I think those in authority used the threat of hell as a way to get me to do their bidding, to keep me in line. You know, like the story of the carrot and the stick but this had the weight of eternity behind it. Staying in line, minding your Ps and Qs certainly has its place when you are coming up through the grades. There is a difference between p and q and it is important to know that difference but what does it have to do with heaven? Heaven had nothing to do with today or the way I lived my life today, so I began to question authority at an early age. Following Jesus has led me in a different direction as I search for heaven.

Luke 17:20-22  (NASB)Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

We must love each other now. We must laugh and cry and live now. It (heaven) is right here in the midst of us, right here. The visible and the invisible are one. The Celts called it thin space.

“Earth's crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”– Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

So how do we find this kingdom of God? Scripture provides this clue.

Matthew 19:14-15 (MSG)  One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.

Scott Russell Sanders observed that “for the enlightened few, the world is always lit.” Which is another way of saying that the requirement for enlightenment is pretty straightforward: let yourself live like a kid.

How do I live like a kid? In honor to Gloria Mitchell I think I’ll start with some unconditional love for those I am given to walk with and then I’ll commence to baltering. 

(Balter: To dance without particular skill or grace, but with extreme joy.)

~Mark Autterson (with help from Terry Hershey)


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