Chapter-6.8   Eight Irresistible Characteristics Of God

 
He Goes To Prepare A Place For Us
(With Reflections On “Field Of Dreams”) *6*
 
PART-1:   I’ve Been Here Before
PART-2:  He Goes To Prepare A Place
PART-3:  Are We There?
 
 
 
Part-1 I’ve Been Here Before
In 1974, I hurt my hand one afternoon while working at an Auto Dealership as a mechanic. Three unique things spun out of the 6 week period of recuperation that followed. (1) — I finally made a decision to decline a business opportunity I had been offered — to launch an innovative auto repair business that is now being pioneered by some companies. (2)— I pursued with zeal a hobby I had taken up in college — artistic painting. And, (3) — at the end of the 6 week period of recovery, I had an interview with a major computer manufacturing company, which led to my being hired as a sales trainee.
 
During the six week period, I produced four or five paintings – one of which led to a most profound experience. The painting was my best shot at representing the Nubble Light in York, Maine. I worked from a calendar photo of the lighthouse, situated at the southern end of a small island slightly off the coast, and lost myself bringing this Vista to life. In the three or four weeks I worked the subject, I combed over every rock in explicit detail. When I was done, I studied the light with great joy and pride at my accomplishment. I soon packed away my painting supplies, and went to work learning about computers. I gave the painting to my parents, who later sold it for me.
 
A couple of years later, we were in New Hampshire for a summer vacation when I decided to go for a ride. Feeling a sense of excitement, I got in the car and made a B-line for the Maine coast. I had no idea where I would end up (my last trip to Maine was as a child with my parents), so I just headed east. Within an hour, I was enjoying a relaxed ride along the Maine coastline at which point I encountered a sign with an arrow to the right that said, “Nubble Light”. My adrenaline started to pump, and I thought, “WOW”, and took a right turn. The road rose up and up a gentle slope (still no view). With each rotation of my tires, the sense of adventure grew. Finally as I crested the ridge, my car plunged through my artist’s canvas, and as I drank in the view, I became suspended between euphoric joy and an overwhelming sense of dejavu! Though never having been to this place in Maine, I was driving on familiar ground! With a rush of vitality, I realized, in a manner of speaking, that I had been here before! It was SURREAL!
 
As I settled back down to reality, I delighted myself rehearsing every stroke of the brush as I surveyed rocks and grass, gates and fencing, light and the shingles, all of which I knew intimately. Even to this day some 40 years later, I can still see this vista as if I was still there.
 
I suspect my experience with the Nubble Light foreshadows the experience believers (in Jesus) will have to varying degrees as they depart this life and enter Paradise: “Wow, I’ve been here before!”
 
While I recognize there is much in Paradise that none of us can conceive, I believe there is much there that will be surprisingly familiar.
 
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Notes And References (Part-1):
 
*1*. Copyright: Field of Dreams is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. Licensed by Universal Studios.
 
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Part-2. He Goes To Prepare A Place!
The house we lived in had started to show signs of wear (especially since it was already a little tired looking 16 years earlier when we moved in). Our daughter’s room desperately needed some TLC. So, after we dropped her off at a Christian Camp for girls in up-state New York to serve as a councilor for the summer, we decided to give her the surprise of a lifetime!
 
We started with the cracks in the ceiling, prepped the walls and all of the trim and doors — lots of sanding. We cleaned up her closet and got it ready. The big challenge was the windows (we finally got replacement windows some 18 years later) — so we dismantled the old sashes, re-roped the weights, got rid of all the flaking paint, and when it was all said and done, bathed everything in two coats of fresh paint. This took awhile, since I did not take any vacation time to accelerate the work. We replaced the carpeting, the quilt on her bed and hung the the matching curtains with care. We placed a refinished cushy chair in her room with new lamps — the whole ‘9 yards’!
 
Now, we weren’t the best parents, but we sure tried to love up on our kids whenever we could. Before we drove to NY, I placed the camcorder on a shelf in her new room pointed toward the door. Everything was almost set. I then wrote her a short note with the Bible verse, “I go to prepare a place for you – that where I am, you might be also!” (John -14:3). *1*. We left the note in a prominent place and couldn’t wait to see her reaction to this gorgeous space!
 
Well, her response went beyond our expectations. The hard work and long hours dissolved in our shared tears of JOY, beaming smiles and hugs! The outpouring of love, appreciation and affection lasting for days. Gosh, I enjoy happy surprises!
 
As our excitement and elation subsided, Jesus whispered in my spirit, “I go to prepare a place for you and Sara too!” In a manner of speaking, I thought in response, “Isn’t this Heaven? Lord, can it get much better than this?”
 
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Notes And References (Part-2):
 
*1*. John 14:2 (NIV)
 
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Part-3. Are We There?
When I was a child, we took some fun vacations, but on those long drives, (well before the days of electronic gadgets to entertain kids), more than once, I remember popping every kid’s favorite question: “Are we there?”
 
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, 5 significant things happen:
 
  1. We are “Saved”. *1*
  2. Jesus comes to take up residence in our hearts. *2*
  3. We are sealed for Christ by the Holy Spirit. *3*
  4. We are seated in the “Heavenly Realms in Christ Jesus” *4*
  5. We have been “rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of his dear Son.” *5*
 
Note, in one of these special transactions, Jesus comes to dwell with us where we are — HERE (in our hearts). In one of them, we are raised to where he is — THERE (in the Heavenly Realms). So, essentially, we now become citizens in two realms: HERE — The World, and now THERE — Heaven. Finally, we see that we are “Rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of his dear Son.” While I do not fully understand the extent of the relationship between this “Kingdom” and “Heaven”, I do believe the former is an extension of the latter!
 
In all my writing, I attempt to share my opinions of what I read in the Bible recognizing there might be other valid (and possibly more sound) interpretations. I am not ashamed to admit that we have reached a place regarding these topics, where my knowledge is eclipsed by the greatness of the mysteries that we are considering. So with that in mind, let us venture forth recognizing that there still might be something to be gained in further pondering these things.
 
In the movie “Field Of Dreams” released in 1989 by Universal Studios, (based on the book “Shoeless Joe” by WP Kinsella) *6*. Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), at the prompting of a Voice, mows down a portion of his corn crop and builds a Baseball Field on the promise that “If you build it, they will come”. And sure enough, one evening, out of the tall corn stalks, a young baseball player emerges. Ray engages the player only to discover it is none other than ‘Shoeless Joe Jackson’ (Ray Liotta) from the famed White Sox Baseball Team that won the World Series in 1917 and became involved in the 1919 ‘Black Sox Scandal’ (where 8 players were accused of conspiring to throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds and as a consequence were forever banned from Professional Baseball, even though they were acquitted in a public trial).
 
‘Shoeless’ was getting ready to return to the corn stalks one night, after hitting the ball around with Ray, when he asked permission to bring back some of the other players. The next evening, there were a whole bunch, having a great time out on the field, practicing for some scrimmage games.
 
Ray and his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan), and their daughter, Karen (Gaby Hoffman), were fully able to see the players on the field, as could Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones) who had agreed earlier in the story (with much reluctance) to accompany Ray on his strange odyssey. However, their finance manager, Mark (Timothy Busfield), could not. And he kept insisting that they sell their house, farm and land, to avoid forecloser.
 
As the story progresses, some very unique people from the past and the present converge on the field to have their dreams fulfilled. A question that is oft repeated by the players to Ray, as they find so much delight throwing the ball and batting on the field, is: “Is this heaven?” While this movie is an older story, that has been enjoyed by great numbers, it remains, in my opinion, one of Hollywood’s all time GREAT MOVIES!
 
“Is this Heaven?”
 
In the movie, the field becomes a physical point of intersection between what I will call, ‘The REALM’ (that dimension in the corn stalks – which is never formally namedfrom which the ghosts of these players emerge), and the world. On the field, they are able to interact with enlightened people (like Ray and his family – but seem to be mysteriously restricted to the field, and invisible to the non-believing masses). One of the truly entertaining elements of the movie is the remarkable photography of people as they emerge from among the corn stalks as spirits and transition onto the field as ball players.
 
There are some amazing similarities and some intriguing differences between the movie and the Biblical model of ‘Heaven’ and the ‘Kingdom of God’. I think it is important to remember that the intent and focus of “Field of Dreams” is not to present an all inclusive portrait of Heaven, but rather to build a compelling story around this Field, which becomes a place like Heaven for the players who visit. And in my opinion, to that end, they have done a great job!
 
There are four key elements I would like to bring into focus in this narrative. The FIRST, is that Ray spent the entire portion of his life, covered during the span of the movie, seeking to help people fulfill their dreams that were somehow thwarted by less than desirable circumstances. Jesus came that he could help all who would turn to him in faith have a future and a hope — and thus realize some of the dreams they had, which have been shattered by the “fall of man” in the garden. *14*
 
The SECOND is the inability of Ray’s finance manager, Mark, to see the “FIELD”. This is so similar to the Gospel message presented by Jesus to Nicodemus where He says that our ability to “see” and “enter” the Kingdom of God is contingent upon our being “born again” / “born of water and the Spirit”. *7*. And once we come to Jesus in Faith, our spirits are awakened to this new reality. Until this happens, we remain like Ray’s Financial Planner, Mark, unable to see the “Kingdom of God” / for the sake of comparison — the “Field”.
 
The THIRD is that Ray was guided by a VOICE that tells him, “If you build it they will come.” He mows down a portion of his corn crop and builds a Baseball Field.
 
As Christians, we enter into labor with Christ and work to build for His Kingdom and in the process, we are guided by our Good Shepherd’s VOICE. *8*
 
The fact of the matter is that all of us are building something! We are either building so that a following will be gathered onto US (in this world), or we are building to captivate a following that will be gathered unto JESUS (for the age to come)! And in reality, through the course of a Christian’s life, they have all done some of each.
 
FOURTH, the primary focus in the movie, is the entry of players from the “REALM” onto the ‘Field’ that Ray built, and their limited interaction with enlightened people. The primary focus of the Gospel message is for people, blinded by sin, (through the saving Grace of God), to enter a relationship with Jesus that transfers them into the Kingdom [for the sake of comparison – ‘onto the Field’] that Jesus built. Their mission becomes (as they grow more and more into the likeness of Christ) to go back into the world they came from and to help others ‘see’ and ‘enter’ the kingdom [‘Field’] through similar ‘saving faith’. *9*
 
So how does this net out in every day life? What are some of the benefits and blessings that are meant to be realized and enjoyed by the believer, and the lives of people influenced by the believer.
 
A. The simplest activities now take on Devine significance. When Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes (in the Old Testament), he concluded that all of man’s endeavors were ‘meaningless’. *10*. Jesus breathes ‘significance’ into all that ‘meaningless’ stuff! Almost as in a throwback to Jesus’ washing the disciples feet at the last super, when the Custodian washes the floors in the school hallways, his task now takes on special significance. When someone shares their lunch with a homeless person, the act becomes like that of the young boy in Scripture who gave his lunch to Jesus, and when he had done so, he actually feed 5000 people. *11*. As Jesus says in the story, when we have done something for one of the least of these, we have done it for Jesus, himself. *12*. Even something as elementary as giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul has a promised reward! *13*. So finally, we are free to stop striving for recognition in the eyes of the world, and empowered to elevate every task at hand, because we are THRIVING in our relationship with the King of this new realm.
 
B. We bring the world a living hope. Because our hope for the future is based on the powerful resurrection of Jesus from the dead, it is permanent and eternal — not like the ‘grab all you can’ hopes of the world that are placed in things destined to perish. *14*
 
C. We hold the keys to an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
We make these available to anyone and everyone willing to listen and receive. *15*
 
D. As we abide in Him, he produces fruit in our lives: Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
[22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ***
 
Now, if one looks to the extreme right of our dual citizenship (Heaven), in part, we dwell in a realm where:
 
  1. There are NO DEAD PEOPLE — Heaven is the LAND OF THE LIVING!
  2. There are NO SICK PEOPLE — Heaven is the LAND OF THE WHOLE!
  3. There is NO ECONOMIC NEED — There are eternal and abundant resources in the realm of Heaven!
  4. There is Perpetual Peace — Heaven is a realm VOID of anxiety and depression!
  5. There is NO Sorrow — in Heaven, God has wiped away every tear!
  6. There is Complete Freedom From Fear — There is NO Evil present in the Heavenly realms — thus there is nothing to fear!
  7. There is NO Darkness — in Heaven, God is our continual source of light!
 
If one looks to the extreme left of our dual citizenship (here, Earth), for the most part, the world tells us we need to grab all we can because (in their blindness they believe) ‘LIFE is short!’
 
When Jesus first sent out the 12 Apostles to the “lost sheep of Israel”, He gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 10:1 NIV). He specifically said to them (Matthew 10:7-8 NIV), “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” *** He basically told them to take the characteristics of Heaven, and not only bring them to the people they encounter [on their earthly mission], but through their faith, to apply those attributes to their lives! These were the first manifestations of the Lord’s power in the lives of His followers. In many ways, such displays were present in the early church (book of Acts), and to varying degrees they are present with His People today.
 
We are all called to be part of a vibrant faith community that sees powerful answers to prayers! The Bible delicately balances this against the fruit that He produces in us as we abide in Him! These two elements along with the LOVE we have for each other become the ultimate criteria for evaluating the authenticity of our faith!
 
So why do I mention all of this and explore these things?
 
King David who committed adultery with Bathsheba by all rights should have been stoned to death according to the Law of Moses. But through their shared faith and God’s favor, his prophetic advisor, Nathan, given the prophetic insight, was able to help David DRAW UPON THE GRACE OF GOD, (which was not powerfully manifested until the Age-to-Come when Jesus started His ministry). Nathan applied this (futuristic) GRACE to David’s life, and pronounced that David would LIVE! *16*
 
In this same forward looking perspective, I believe there is much we Christians are called to draw upon, now, from our Age-to-Come (‘Kingdom of God’) – when Jesus will reign upon the earth!
 
You see, the “Sermon on The Mount” is not only needful preaching on how to assure a place for ourselves in Heaven, it is the guide book for how a Christian who has arrived at this place of dual citizenship (and all sincere believers in Jesus have, the moment they came to faith) can not only survive in this world, but THRIVE for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in which they have now found themselves. *17*
 
Revelation 11:15 NKJV
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” ***
 
 
CLOSING STATEMENTS:
 
As I watched the movie, one more time, a prominent character, Doc Graham, makes some profound statements after expressing his DREAM to Ray,
 
“It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a car — at the moment, you just don’t think much of it. You know, we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they are happening! Back then I thought, there will be other days. I didn’t think that was the only day!”
 
Reader, might this be your only day? The Bible says, “Behold, today is the day of Salvation!”. *19*. Please be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, if you haven’t already done so — by starting a conversation with him, and asking him to save you!
 
If you do that, you will thus join the great company of believers who one day soon, will no longer be constrained by the reflections we see in a mirror. Having taken our last breath — seeing Jesus face to face — we will find ourselves, again walking our “Field of Dreams”!
 
Saturated by unquenchable love — surrounded by many new and unexpected blessings, we will look around, and look back, and realize, (in a manner of speaking), WE HAVE BEEN HERE ALL ALONG!
 
And we won’t need to ask, “Is this Heaven?” We will know! Just as we are fully known! *18*
 
We all have significant influence. If we build with a focus on this world, we will be given power to draw some whose choice is with those destined to perish! If on the other hand, we build to draw people to Jesus, we will be given power to gather some whose choice is with those destined to eternal life! So, the saying is true for all of us, “If you build it, they will come!”. The only question is, who will respond to our call? And what will be their destiny?
 
America, where are you? Reader, where are you? Are you like Ray’s Finance Manager, Mark, unable to see the Kingdom of God / Field? Isn’t it time you change that and get in the game? Your ‘Field’ is waiting.
 
It took a health crisis in Karen’s life for Mark to be able to see the “Field Of Dreams” and the Ball Players. Is this Corona Virus enough of a health crisis for you? What are you waiting for?
 
This chapter is dedicated to a dear little girl, whose life (within the last few days) was stuffed out during the birthing process. And her mother, who loved and cherished that little girl every moment of their very intimate nine months together! This family’s tragic loss gives a small but touching glimpse of how God the Father feels, when the people he created ignore his plea, and perish never knowing the good plans, joys and blessings that He had intended for them to share with Him, their Creator!
 
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AS WE BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME!!!
 
Prayer: Jesus, please remember me, a sinner, when you come in your Kingdom!
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Notes And References (Part-3):
 
***. ALL SCRIPTURE REFERENCES IN THIS CHAPTER (unless otherwise stated):
[Tecarta Bible / Zondervan / Distributed through Tecarta Bible Study App / Tecarta, Inc. / ©️2020 Tecarta, Inc.]
 
 
*1*. Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
 
*2*. Ephesians 3:17 (NIV)
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
 
*3*. Ephesians 1:13 (NASB)
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
 
*4*. Ephesians 2:6 (NIV)
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
 
*5*. Colossians 1:13 NIrV
He has saved us from the kingdom of darkness. He has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.
 
*6*. Copyright. Field of Dreams is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. Licensed by Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
 
Based on “Shoeless Joe” / 1982 / Houghton Mifflin Publishing / by W. P. Kinsella
 
*7*. John 3:3 (NIrV)
Jesus replied, “What I’m about to tell you is true. No one can see God’s kingdom unless they are born again.”
 
*8*. John 10:4 (NIrV)
When he has brought out all his own sheep, he goes on ahead of them. His sheep follow him because they know his voice.
 
*n9*. Matthew 28:19 (NIrV)
So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
 
*10*. Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV)
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
 
*11* John 6:8 (MSG)
One of the disciples-it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter-said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
 
*12*. Matthew 25:40 (NIV)
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
 
*13*. Matthew 10:42 (NIV)
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
 
*14*. 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
 
*15*. 1 Peter 1:4 (NIrV)
He has given us new birth so that we might share in what belongs to him. This is a gift that can never be destroyed. It can never spoil or even fade away. It is kept in heaven for you.
 
*16*. 2 Samuel 12:13 (NIrV)
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You aren’t going to die.
 
*17*. Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7.
Begins in verse: Matthew 5:1 (NIV)
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
 
*18*. Several short snippets from 1 Corinthians chapter 13, which begins with:
1 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
 
*19*. 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NLT)
For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.
 
 
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–©️2020, Dale Petersen, all rights reserved. Published for Non-profit by  Pleasepraywithus.info
 
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