Gathering Together

Singing in Heaven


Jamie stood with the crowd. But “crowd” wasn’t really the proper word. He wasn’t sure what the proper word was, but “multitude,” “heavenly host,” and “great sea of humanity”came to mind as possibilities. In addition, surrounding the saved—all wearing sparkling white—were the angelic host. He could see all the people, but there were far too many angels to view; they stretch far, far into the distance, well beyond his untrained eyes.
Untrained eyes. What an unusual thought, but true. He was still learning to train them. He had learned to focus on a distant point, and will his vision to bring that point into clearer and clearer focus. As he did this, his peripheral vision slowly did the same, and the full 360 degree circumference also grew sharper and sharper, until his full vision was completely crystal clear.
It was, he had learned, a trained response that would later become second nature, like learning to walk, ride a bike, or fly a kite. Soon, he was told, this exercise would become so natural and normal that he wouldn’t have to think himself through it anymore. He smiled at the thought.
That’s when he heard the first note. Far in the distance, but clear as a bell, as if it even vibrated inside his own head. As a tuning fork gently begins to vibrate and resonate at the pitch of the surrounding notes, a new place in his brain began to tingle, like the experience of waking up from a long, Rip Van Winkle-­‐like experience.
It was beautiful. But that doesn’t describe it properly. It was majestic.
It came, at first, from his far right, way off in the distance as a single note, a single voice. Then another joined in, and another. Two became twenty, and twenty became two hundred. Then numbers uncountable. It swelled like a giant wave, growing by the second, reaching heights he thought impossible, and still it grew higher. It was as if the song had never really been sung—until now.
It was at that moment that Jamie realized that even though the music was full and free and powerful, but only a small fraction were singing at all. Because it was a song from the early years of church history that most of the crowd didn’t know. It spoke of the persecution they faced from an oppressive Roman government. It spoke of the sadness they felt as fellow Christians were burned at the stake, skewered inhumanely, or thrown to the lions. But it also spoke of the inner joy they felt at knowing that their dear friend or loved one had gotten to go on home to their reward, their true home, their place of peace and freedom from oppression. Home to the King. Home to their families. Home to an indescribable joy.
The song went on for a while. There wasn’t a dry eye—not even among the angelic host. This was a surprise, since Jamie had expected heaven would be a tear-­‐free zone. But here they were, wet and cold, running down his cheeks. Then, he felt it—a gentle finger wiping away the tears. The finger of a man with a scar on His wrist. The scripture shouted in his mind:
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17 NIV
Steve Hemphill, author
"My search for the Real Heaven"
by Steve Hemphill