Can you tell the difference

…so you think you can tell heaven from hell…

[Pink Floyd, Wish You Were HereWish You Were Here, David Gilmour & Roger Waters, released September 12, 1975, Harvest (UK) and Columbia/CBS (USA)records]

In the 1970’s, I figured only clinically depressed and suicidal people couldn’t tell heaven from hell. But in 2019, I’m so sure. How many of us have wasted our numbered days chasing after more than we need: money, better job titles, and that extra square footage? How often, when none of it brings peace and joy, do we double down – as if more of what doesn’t work will miraculously do the trick.

Heaven and hell aren’t the penthouse and basement of reality. They aren’t the opposite ends of a punishment/reward yardstick. Heaven is knowing how much we are loved, and how much we can love self and others. Hell is both ignorance and rejection of that love, bringing a darkness into the soul and leeching everything that is good and lovely out of our lives.

You and I may get it wrong sometimes, mistaking that green field for a cold steel rain, but we know what choosing heaven instead of hell looks like. It’s choosing to see and help those in need, spending time on what enlarges the heart and soul, and knowing that wealth cannot bring joy or peace. If you and I remember how Jesus spent his numbered days, spotting the difference between heaven and hell won’t be very difficult.

Lord, may my eyes see heaven and my heart and soul choose it over hell. Amen.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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