Friday, February 25, 2005


Have you ever visited a really poor part of a very poor country. I have done so a few times. The outskirts of Tijuana, Southern Spain, Portugal, Venezuela, and Haiti. Haiti was the worst, but I learned the following lesson on the Coast of Venezuela.

The beautiful rolling hills there are populated by squatters. Each hill has a central staircase going from the coast to the top of the hill. On either side of this staircase are houses made of tin or cardboard or other industrial scraps. Outside the back windows of these little homes is the paper trash cascading down into the valley. Each valley is filled with this colorful litter.

Walking up and down the stairs are women with poles over their shoulders and a bucket on each end of the pole. They carry down the sewage or dirty clothes, and bring back the clean water or clean clothes in the same buckets.

After passing miles and miles of this repeating landscape, I brought up the astonishing poverty of these people to the cab driver taking me to Caracas. He corrected me: “These people are from the interior, from the jungle. They think this is heaven. They will save money from their jobs in the city to buy one brick at a time to replace the tin walls. If they really do well they will move into the city and an apartment in one of the huge apartment buildings seen throughout the city. And, of course, this will be another level of heaven for them.”

I try to imagine the amazement that one of these folks must feel on first coming to the coast.
Just seeing the ocean for the first time must be thrilling and awesome. Seeing the City must seem like going to another planet by comparison to their life. And for most, they probably haven’t any idea in advance of what it will be like.

The closest I can come to getting an idea of this into my head and heart would be seeing Niagara or flying into Honolulu for the first time. No one can explain it or prepare you for the grandeur or the beauty. But I did see pictures, even moving pictures of these prior to arrival. It was still very exciting.

Possibly, the cabby had some real incite. For those of us who have lived a middle class existence in 20th Century and now 21st Century America, it would take a pretty major increase in beauty and prosperity to compare to the experience of those Venezuelans. Everything I know about it would suggest that Heaven will have that kind of impact, but many times more so. Why do so many question how exciting heaven is going to be when we can see the potential right here on earth of moving from one experience to another.

Having said all that, check out Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. I will do an actual book review in a few days.


Anonymous said...

Man, you had me until I read "incite" for "insight."

maddiekate03 said...

I was thinking about heaven today as well...I think that when we have those "mountain top" moments with the Lord, we have only a glimpse of a glimpse of a glimpse of what heaven will be like. It's exciting. However, it's interesting to see people when they move closer to the reality of going to heaven, how much fear creeps in about dying and leaving this earth. This is all we've ever known - just like the Venezuelans from the jungle - and we know we'll never want to return to earth again, but letting go and getting there must be a very interesting experience.

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