It’s obvious just a few days later that I’m not the only one provoked by this question, “Is everyone just playing house?”
Today I want to suggest an alternative. Let’s agree that playing house is playing and pretending in all the ways that are “normal” for suburban life— meals and groceries, familial relationships and pets, running errands and routines, then pack it all up like it never happened. This is how 5 years olds play. And this is what I fear could be the unintentional life of those who follow Jesus (including myself)— years of “normal” that get packed up at the end of our lives like they never happened.
Now, let’s imagine we’re playing out a different “normal.” A normal that Jesus defines— the normal that is the eternal normal.
I got a few more chapters in that book of Jennie Allen’s, Anything, and it concludes with the question: “What if heaven and God and forever became our normal? Wouldn’t that change everything?” (p49)
So rather than just thinking in hypotheticals, I started thinking about what is normal for heaven and God and forever? Here’s a few things:
- No more crying or mourning (Revelation 21:4)
- No more death or dying (Revelation 21:4)
- The hungry has food (John 6:35)
- The meek inherit the whole earth (Matthew 5:5)
- Beautiful gardens with fruitful trees (Revelation 22:1-2)
- Incredible handiwork in woodwork and fabric that has to be inspired by God to even exist in part here on earth (Exodus 25:40)
- Enemies restored to one another (Matthew 5:43-45)
- The weak are the strong ones (2 Corinthians 12:10)
- Feasts (Isaiah 25:6)
- Races of people altogether (Revelation 7:9)
- Prisoners set free (Luke 4:18)
- Beautiful music (Revelation 4:8)
- Great conversation (Matthew 17:3)
- Everyone has a home (John 14:2)
That’s just the start! That’s without doing any word searches or any Bible study— that’s just off the top of my head (though I did go back to grab a lot of those references for you). These are things that Jesus has promised are part of eternity.
So what if we all “played” (but instead of playing, actually lived), not the suburban version of normal but the heaven version of normal?
I’ll get really concrete.
- What if you took to your suburban garden as if it were one of the gardens of eternity. What would you plant? What food would you grow? Who would you share that with?
- Since you Jesus will set prisoners free, is there someone incarcerated whose story you are getting to know now?
- Do you settle for protein bars for most meals, or are you occasionally gathering a crew for a feast? And is that crew you’re gathering a suburban normal crew, or is it a heavenly normal crew— the weak and the blind and the poor and those racially different from you?
- When you go to coffee with a friend, do you only talk about what’s new at Costco? Or do you have deep conversation that looks like Jesus’ might have when talking with Abraham and Moses and Elijah on the mountain?
- Do you climb mountains?
- Do you share your food with the hungry?
- What disease are you researching to see eradicated?
- If you have any musical giftedness, do you settle for what you can make without any practice? Or do you practice to make beautiful music that gives glory to God? The kind you might play in his throne room?
- Do you allow yourself to rest outside and just admire a hummingbird that flies close to you?
- Do you have an extra room in your house? Have you considered that someone— an orphan, a relative, a foster child— could live there?
Do you see what I mean? I think we can “play heaven” except it’s not playing! It’s reality!
Jesus encouraged us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” and “the kingdom of heaven has come near”— that is, it is here! And we have the privilege of being ambassadors of this eternal kingdom, ambassadors stationed in suburbia, for the purpose of making the country that God is setting up for eternity known now. I am Jesus’ Kingdom ambassador to Gig Harbor, WA. And I want to live a heavenly normal life.
So this week I think I need to sit in that beautiful, Pinteresting nursery and prayerfully remind myself that this will pass away when God remakes this earth and all is HIS version of normal. So to play heaven in that space is just to surrender what looks good now and realize it’s not forever. And pass it along ASAP because it’s not mine for eternity.
This week I also think I could enjoy a bit more rest than is a suburban normal. I can sit in this October sunshine, eat something pumpkin, and imagine Jesus sitting and enjoying it with me.
I may not be in a position right now to go to Laytonku, Thailand or have the talent to eradicate disease, but I can pray for the cholera epidemic between Burma and Thailand and ask that the disease-free eternal normal comes to pass there and that in Jesus’ name, he would eradicate all disease from the water and the bodies of so many.
And even as I sit here and finish typing this, I pray and think— yes, Jesus, I can live your normal here. I can bring your normal to this place. Teach me how to play heaven. This will be fun.
How will you live heaven’s normal this week?