PASSING THROUGH THE SHADOWLAND
Rev. 21:21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made
of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
John had a really hard job, he was charged with describing the indescribable. Like the Hebrew prophets that went before him, John was caught up into spiritual ecstasies and saw things that defied human comprehension. He saw animals with human faces, thrones made out of jewels, gates that were made out of pearl, and even streets of some kind of gold that was transparent. At the end of the day that’s what preaching is. We are painting pictures of the unseen world with our words. C. S. Lewis was one of these artists; he loved to use fiction to make real things more understandable (if that makes any sense). Here is a portion of Lewis’s book The Great Divorce that takes a stab at describing the place called heaven.
“Then some re-adjustment of the mind or some focussing of my eyes took place, and I saw the whole phenomenon the other way round. The men were as they always had been; as all the men I had known had been perhaps. It was the light, the grass, the trees that were different; made of some different substance, so much solider than things in our country that men were ghosts by comparison. Moved by a sudden thought, I bent down and tried to pluck a daisy which was growing at my feet. The stalk wouldn’t break. I tried to twist it, but it wouldn’t twist. I tugged till the sweat stood out on my forehead and I had lost most of the skin off my hands. The little flower was hard, not like wood or even like iron, but like diamond. There was a leaf-a young tender beech-leaf, lying in the grass beside it. I tried to pick the leaf up: my heart almost cracked with the effort, and I believe I did just raise it. But I had to let it go at once; it was heavier than a sack of coal. As I stood recovering my breath with great gasps and looking down at the daisy, I noticed that I could see the grass not only between my feet but through them. I also was a phantom. Who will give me words to express the terror of that discovery? “Golly!” thought I. “I’m in for it this time.”
Lewis loved to use make believe to describe the other world. In Narnia, the unexpected trip was through the back of a wardrobe. In The Great Divorce, the journey started in a train station. When he found himself unexpectedly in heaven, he was shocked at the weightiness of everything in heaven. Everything there had a weight of glory about it. In comparison Lewis seemed like a phantom. I guess that is one way to look at it, this world is just a shadowland pointing us to the indescribable place called heaven.