My mum shared this wee tale with me and I am passing it on to you. It comes from some daily readings from around 20 years ago! My mum recycles…
The author of the daily reading notes has been talking about how faith, hope and love are the building materials which we send before us into eternity:
The story is told of a man who died and went to heaven. Arriving at the Pearly Gates, he was asked his name and, after identifying his name in the Book of Life, an angel escorted him through the streets of heaven. As they walked together down the different streets, the man said to the angel: “where are we going?” The angel replied: “We are going to the dwelling place that has been prepared for you.”
As they walked, the man looked at the magnificent dwelling places that were all around, and wondered just which one had been prepared for him. Eventually they came to a small, rude and tumbledown abode at which the angel stopped and said: “Here is where you are to spend eternity.” The man was taken aback and said: “Surely – not this. Why couldn’t my home be like the beautiful mansions we have just passed by?” In solemn tones the angel said: “I’m sorry, but we did the best we could out of the materials that you send up.”
Of course it is just a story and there is no theological basis for it but it certainly caught me by surprise. What if our home in heaven was built out of what we sent up – everything that enters heaven must go through the refiners fire – and we know that faith, hope and love will survive when we read for 1 Corinthians 13 – “But surely these three remain, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.”
If you were building your heavenly home with faith, hope and love, what kind of home would it be? A mansion because you are generous with love, full of hope and convinced in faith or a tumbledown shack because you withhold love, drown hope and faith flickers like a candle in a draft?
The most powerful witness I have seen recently is from one so convinced he has met God that his very life sparkles with love, hope and faith. Even the dourest of Christians has not yet put him off. We forget so easily that our very attitudes of faith, hope and love are far more important than even the words we use to tell others about Jesus (or evangelise) or the fact we turn up every Sunday at God’s house.
In our imaginations let us build mansions and every day send up the bricks required by loving more, believing more, hoping more – knowing that God not only builds the mansions, he provides the bricks.