“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them'” (Revelation 14:13).

AT THE END OF THE ROAD, WE CAN GO TO AN ETERNAL PLACE OF REST AND BEAUTY AND STRENGTH. The solace and safety for which we long are things that can be fully realized. What is true in time will be even more true in eternity: “There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God” (Cleland B. McAfee). It is to be a place of “sanctuary” in the very truest sense of the word.

One of Dalhart Windberg’s paintings is called Everlasting Sanctuary. A print of that painting first arrested my attention in the hallway of the hospital where my mother lay dying. It drew me immediately into a world both strong and serene. Later, friends gave me a small copy to hang in my home, and I’m always eager to enter the scene that it depicts. When I am world-weary, I can hear Windberg’s distant waterfall. I can smell the cool evergreens that shelter the river and feel the gentle warmth of the meadow beneath my feet. A deep desire for sanctuary stirs within me.

In literature, I think there is no more powerful evocation of sanctuary than Imladris, or Rivendell, in the work of J. R. R. Tolkien. In the imaginative world of Middle Earth, where good and evil are at war, Rivendell is the elven refuge in a steep, hidden valley cutting through the moors beneath the Misty Mountains. Rivendell resonates with me because I know it represents reality. It connects me to a truth that is larger than my own life.

It’s not inevitable, of course, that I will arrive at the eternal sanctuary of God’s home. If I do, it will be the consequence of right choices about God that I am making right now. I know that not every road leads to the gate of heaven. There is only one that does, and I put my feet on that path when by faith I courageously acquiesce to what I know of God’s will.

“Bring us, O Lord God, at the last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but an equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitations of thy majesty and thy glory, world without end” (John Donne).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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