Ministerial Musings: "I Can Only Imagine"

I have been MIA for a few issues recently, my deepest apologies. That said, I can safely say, "I'm back!" (I said that in my best faux Poltergeist voice.) Never mind...

Anyway, I recently watched the video “I Can Only Imagine” by the contemporary Christian rock group Mercy Me. The video brought me to tears.

Not to ruin it for you, but throughout the first verse and chorus there is a diversity of people holding empty frames: young and old, black and white, male and female. Once the second verse hits, the frames are filled with photographs.

If you follow the lyrics, the implication is that each person is holding a photo of a loved one who is deceased and that they will see that person when they get to Heaven themselves:

I can only imagine

What it will be like

When I walk by your side

I can only imagine

What my eyes will see

When your face is before me

I can only imagine

Take a moment and check out that video for yourself online at Youtube.

Is that what it is going to be like? Scripture says that in heaven God “will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more” (Rev. 21:4).

Is that what you think? Is that what you imagine? Will we be reunited with loved ones? Will we walk streets of gold or will we sit on clouds playing golden harps? Will we drift aimlessly as mere energy that is assimilated into the cosmos?

The French existentialist Jean Paul Sartre once quipped that Heaven is always described by people who have never been there. That’s true. I never met anyone who has been there.

That said, we can still have hope. When our hope is in Jesus, it does not fail. Paul said that “hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:5).

Hope is ultimately what unites us as a Christian community. Hope points to the horizon — to a vision that we share. Although we probably hold different visions of Heaven, the common hope we share looks to a place where there is no war, disease, or hunger; a habitat void of pain, loss, and grief.

That may mean that we are united with our loved ones. It may mean something completely different. We can only imagine, but we can also trust.

One of the criminals crucified with Christ said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Matthew 23:42-43).

Jesus makes the same promise to us. Hold on to hope, my friends. Keep imagining what it will be like.

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Volume 6, Issue 15, Posted 8:42 AM, 07.27.2010