For some reason, however, I found myself staring out the window into the dark abyss...and my eyes caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a star, trying to shine through the thick clouds. I looked away and looked back, thinking that perhaps my eyes were playing tricks on me, but when I looked for the light again, it was even brighter than before. Then in the blink of an eye, we emerged from the clouds and the entire night sky, vibrant with an incredible number of stars, was laid out for me to enjoy. It was stunning. Off in the distance, was a very thin line of light which I assumed was the last remnants of the setting sun. Now thinking about it further, I'm not sure what it was. It would have been either the beginning of the rising sun, or perhaps I was already getting a glimpse of NYC in the distance. Either way, it produced a very thin but noticeable band of of light at the horizon, and then above me were thousands of stars in the sky. It was so beautiful. I pressed my face to the window and pulled my rain jacket over my head to create a "dark room" of sorts so that I could admire the constellations ever more. I was moved to tears, it was just so beautiful.
Sometimes, I am overcome by an incredible yearning to be in heaven. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I want to end my time on earth, but rather I just get a glimpse of how incredible heaven is and my soul just longs to be there. This was exactly one of those moments. I was listening to the new Matt Maher CD (Alive Again) and the song Letting Go provided the perfect soundtrack to the experience. The lyrics are below, but you can go to http://www.mattmahermusic.com/ and select "Click to Listen" and go to Song 9 to hear the song.
I stand in awe of you, and everything you've done for me. you speak your words into my life, and where you are is where I want to be. I stand before you, Lord. Humbled by the love you give away. A widow's mite, my will and pride. It's all I have to offer anyway. I'm holding onto your love. I'm letting go of myself. I'll say so long to everything else. I just want to be in your arms. I just want to be in your arms. Moving ever closer to your heart. To your heart.
So there I was, tears streaming down my face. Tears of joy and wonder and of love for my God. And then as soon as the clouds had parted, they were back again and the turbulence started. This happened again and again in the plane that night. Each time we went back into the clouds, I would fix my eyes on the brightest star in the sky and keep my eyes focused there, waiting for it to return. And sooner or later, I would start to see that star's light through the thick clouds. It would pulse brighter and then dimmer as the clouds varied but I kept my eyes focused there, just waiting. Eventually, I was rewarded as the light of the star gained rapidly in intensity, the clouds broke and I was able to again behold a beautiful view of the heavens which brought the tears anew.
The entire experience seemed to me to be a metaphor for life. We go through our storms, we have our rocky moments and times where we wonder if we'll make it and then, at a time we could never have predicted, the storm ceases, the clouds part and again, we are sailing smooth. We must only fix our eyes above on the brightest star in the sky...the Morning Star...Christ Jesus. In the midst of the clouds of life, we must fix our eyes on him the author and perfecter of our faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
The entire experience is one that I will never forget. I felt so close to God...as if my soul wanted to leap out of the plane and into His arms. As the song was saying, "I'm holding onto your love. I'm letting go of myself. I'll say so long to everything else. I just want to be in your arms. I just want to be in your arms. Moving ever closer to your heart. To your heart."
And then as if to top it off, we had the most incredible views of NYC on the approach to LaGuardia. It was truly breathtaking. We flew up over the West side of Manhattan following the Hudson River. I could see everything. The Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park...you name it. It was stunning. I didn't have my camera with me to capture these shots, but the images will always remain in my mind, and I was able to find a few (that don't do it justice at all) on the Internet.
We even flew right over Yankee Stadium during the playoff game shortly before Mark Teixeira completed the dramatic 4-3 Yankees walk-off, come-from-behind victory in the 11th inning. Go Yankees! Wow! The entire thing was just stunning...
The whole experience was incredible and breathtaking. But in the end...even with all the glamour and glory of NYC at night, I will still always prefer the beautiful canvas of the heavens that God laid out for me. The simplistic beauty of God's night sky trumps even all that man has created (even though is was incredible). Keeping both in mind, I do have a bit of glimpse of one more meaning of "on earth as it is in heaven."