Originally posted July 4, 2010, at Ben Unseth’s Red-Letter Ideas.Republished with permission of the author.
Driving to Ojai, Calif., is a little like going to heaven.
Driving down Highway 101 is lovely. However, when I turn onto Highway 33 I see beautiful in the distance. The closer I come, the higher the mountains grow.
In winter they sparkle white and brilliant. I love to round the bend at Tico Road as the Topa Topa Mountains spread their welcoming vista.
Like the Ojai Valley, heaven has Hollywood celebrities and humble souls who have navigated through life by bumps and bruises. Artists, mechanics, teachers, salespeople, technicians, restaurateurs, nurses, bookkeepers, grocers, chefs, doctors, cashiers, maids, administrators, gardeners, waiters — all represented. All are invited.
Like Ojai, heaven has Little League coaches and thrift store volunteers, super moms and ex-cons, enthusiastic teenagers and dedicated dads, wise grandparents and kissable babies.
Like Ojai, heaven is a community where valuables are left out without fear of theft — as chairs on Ojai Avenue a week before the Fourth of July parade.
Like Ojai, heaven has crowds that sing praise to our Creator and to humanity’s hope, Messiah.
Unlike Ojai, heaven has laughter, but no tears! St. John wrote, “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good —tears gone, crying gone, pain gone — all the first order of things gone” (Revelation 21:3-4, The Message translation).
If you want to journey to Ojai, it’s really easy: Highway 101, and exit onto Highway 33. In a few minutes you will be surrounded by friendly people, delicious food and some of the most beautiful artistic creations you will ever see.
If you want to journey to heaven, A.W. Tozer had a couple of good ideas: “To know that God thinks about me is the beginning of my journey of faith.” Just reading this piece may have gotten you that far.
As a follow-up Tozer said, “Worship is the best warm-up for heaven.” Come warm up with us or another church in our heaven-like valley. And if Ojai is far away, the body of Christ gathers to worship in your neighborhood too.
Find a link to Ben Unseth’s blog Ben Unseth’s Red-Letter Ideas at Lutheran Blogs.