Friday, June 01, 2007

Better than a dump truck

Bill sat across from me at a cafeteria table in the school where I work. He fiddled with the rim of his paper cup of coffee: black, piping hot, steam circling the fingers on his right hand. We meet about every three weeks or so for java and conversation. He is about twenty years my senior, and I often look to him for sage counsel. Occasionally, I get to tease him, as I did the other day.

“You know what gets me,” he said with a self-mocking laugh, “is that it says in the book of Revelation that heaven is like a city. That gets me every time.” He laughed again, looking down into his cup.

Born and raised in Montana, Bill was an auto parts manufacturer and had a successful business before retiring and moving east to work in full-time ministry. He had spent his childhoods hunting and fishing with his buddies, including Native American friends with names like Tommy Whitefoot and Joe Swiftdeer, and he returns each summer for vacation with his wife and again each autumn to hunt elk and fish for steelhead. He said he couldn’t reconcile his intimacy with and knowledge of God’s natural creation with the account in the Bible of the “new Jerusalem” being like a city.

“And,” I added, not making him any less uncomfortable, “not a very interesting city at that: it’s '12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long…” I did this to rib him. He laughed once more, realizing the humor in speculating about it.

Our upbringings couldn’t have been more different: his in a Christian home out in the open, mine in a secular household where we didn’t speak the name of God except in anger, in arguably the most exciting city in the world.

At times when I worry whether something will be in heaven or not – when I was a new follower of Jesus I always worried whether God had included surfable waves on the other side of eternity – I always remember the story the Lovely K said she heard once from a pastor.

The pastor spoke of a man who was fielding his 5-year-old son’s questions about getting married.

“Dad?” the boy asked.

“Yes, son.”

“On my honeymoon, will I get to take my toys?”

“Son, you’re not going to want to take your toys.”

“Not even my dump truck?”

“Not even your dump truck. There’ll be something much better waiting for you.”

“What’s that, Daddy?”

Friends, that’s the surprise.

photo: shlomaster

1 comment:

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Very nice piece although I can't envision what could be better than a dump truck to a five-year-old boy. Until I read your essay, I forgot about my son's fascination with trucks when he was about that age. For a short while, I could identify every truck in the universe or so it seemed. My son will turn 18 in a week and will be leaving for college next spring. How time flies! I sure miss playing "trucks" with him.