It was a hot, humid day in Southern Missouri when my grandpa unloaded barbed wire and wooden posts from the bed of his pick-up truck to construct a cattle fence; I was age eight. When finished, he took a handkerchief from his work pants and slowly wiped his sunbaked brow. He lit a cigarette and inhaled the tobacco like it was a breath of fresh air and each time he exhaled, a dense cloud of smoke hung in the air. It’s funny the things you remember as a kid.
A few yards away, my grandma spread out a hand-made quilt beneath an oak tree and poured iced tea into plastic cups. As I sipped the cold drink, I pointed to something that clung to the base of several tree trunks.
I found a little piece of heaven.
“What’s all that green stuff, Grandma?”
“God uses that to carpet the gardens in heaven so you can walk barefoot without hurting the bottoms of your feet,” she answered.
“Grandma, do you think God would mind if I took home a little piece of heaven to show my teacher and classmates?”
She dug her fingers into a mound of moss and placed a handful into my empty cup and said, “I don’t think God would mind at all.”
I ran to show grandpa my cup filled with a foretaste of heaven. As grandpa bent down to pick up another roll of barbed wire he pointed to a grassy area and said,
“Over yonder, you might find some flowers for your heavenly garden.” I danced off in the direction he pointed to fill my cup with a little bit more of heaven.
For obvious reasons, the moss and wildflowers didn’t survive. The flowers wilted in the heat and the moss turned brown from lack of water. There was no opportunity to show classmates my little piece of heaven.
We are all given a piece of heaven while on earth.
God sees us as empty cups; vessels that need to be filled. He places a handful of abundant mercy and grace into our cup, and then fills it to the brim with everlasting life. The only thing that God requires from us is to water the contents of our cup daily with the Word of God and shade it from any heat generated by apathy.
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58: 11 (NIV)
When it’s time for show-and-tell before God and His heavenly audience, what will be the condition of the contents he placed within your cup? I pray it will be lush and green; filled with flowers that bloom in every season.