"The Stone that saw Heaven"
Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a medium sized stone about the size of a small pillow. The stones name was Bethany and she lived in a field outside a small city called Luz, which was on a road between two larger cities. Now Bethany was a very smooth stone that had no rough edges at all for she was a extremely old and had been worn smooth by many years of rain and wind. The field she lived in , despite being near a city, was far enough off the road to be very desolate and abandoned.
Now , before I tell you more about Bethany’ story, I have to first explain that stones can actually hear each other. For while sound travels poorly through air it travels very well though the earth. Remember the seeing on old westerns the Indian who would put his ear to the ground to hear the sound of approaching footsteps. Even though they were too far away to hear through the air, the ground carries the sounds of the footsteps much better and much farther. Well because of this all stones can keep in close communication and they just love to pass on what they witness. Yes, you see, stones are the gossips of the ground.
So you can see that it was sure a good thing that Bethany had relatives and that stones can hear over such long distances for if not for her daily conversations with her cousin Elmer she might have died from loneliness. For stones most favorite thing to do in the whole world is having something to witness. (pause & explain what “witness” means) Yes, stones just love to watch, listen and record what happens around them and since nothing ever seemed to happen around Bethany she was a very sad stone indeed. Because of this Bethany spent most of the daytime hours listening to the stories passed on to her by one of her favorite relative named Elmer who lived many miles away in the middle of a town right beside a well. Yes, Elmer had it great. He was right in the middle of all the action and every day he shared what he witnessed there with Bethany. But for some reason Elmer was always silent at night and then Bethany would do something very odd for stones. For at night she would dream and dream and dream and everyone including Bethany knew that stones do not normally dream so Bethany figured it was because she was so lonely.
Now one evening very late in the day, Bethany saw a man at a distance walking on the road. He looked tired and since the sun had already gone down she figured he would head into the city for the night just like all the others. But instead this man stopped, looked about and then began walking closer and close to Bethany. Bethany got so exited she nearly squealed but of course stones can’t squeal so she immediately told her cousin Elmer that a man was coming close to her. She was pretty disappointed in Elmer’s response though for he called back “so what - that’s nothing, people walk by me 1000 times a day ..” Say let me tell you about the fight I saw today between these two women”. Bethany said OK to be nice and tried to listen but she was having trouble listening for then man that had approached her had stopped and was now standing directly over her. With his hands on his hips he looked to the left and then back to the right. Apparently not seeing what he wanted, the man then suddenly lied down, wiggled in the dirt to get comfortable and placed his head on Bethany.
Bethany was almost in shock for despite being as old as the hills, this was the first time someone had ever used her for a pillow. With excitement flowing all through her Bethany tried to cut in on Elmer’s story and tell him what had happened but Elmer, still focused on his story droned on and on. By the time he finished 2 hours later the man lying on Bethany was asleep and Bethany was growing tired. As she fell asleep too that night she sighed with disappointment because she figured that by the time she woke up in the morning the man would probably be gone and once again she would have nothing of interest to pass on to Elmer. What Bethany did not know was there was nothing further from the truth for as she fell asleep that night she began to dream and her dream was like no other she had ever had.
As she began to dream she saw a stairway. The stairway started right there beside her and it reached far up into the night sky. Now the stairway was huge and on it were awesome beings that somehow she knew were angels. Many were descending to earth and many were climbing the stairway back up. As the dream continued, Bethany tried to follow those angels going up and up and despite her normally poor eyes she could see them clearly for it was as though she was on the stairway herself. The further up she looked the clearer the top of the stairway became and she looked further and further up until her eyes came to rest on something that sent chills down her back . For a the top of the stairway was a place of un-measurable proportions. There was river was running right down the middle of a large road. The road was not like any road he had ever seen for it was made of something that looked like golden glass. The road and the river ran together right through the middle of a huge city.
All the buildings on either side of the road and river were very beautiful. They were also made of something that looked like golden glass but had many precious stones like emeralds and rubies stuck on them as well. Near the middle if the city, the road and river began to climb up a hill and near the top the road ended. There Bethany saw valleys and hills were homes with courtyards and gardens and in the distance set against the mountains a great city gleaming almost like a jewel. The river continued a little further until it stopped in just in front of the place all the water was coming from. As Bethany’s eyes left the river and focused on it's source Bethany’s gasped in awe. For the river was coming out of a great throne, around the throne was a huge green rainbow and on the throne was God Himself. Angels that are too hard to describe surrounded him and His face shone so brightly that He lit up the whole city. When Raphael saw how brightly God was shining, he turned and looked around for the sun. After a few seconds of searching he realized that there was none. All of the light in the city was coming from God. Now all of this was amazing but it was still nothing compared to what happened next for as she continued to look towards the throne where Gods eyes were are all ablaze like fire yet his pupils can be clearly seen, His face is radiant and lit the whole valley like the sun yet you could still see his smile and his nose and his cheeks in all detail. His clothes are glowing like molten metal, yet he gave off no heat, and his feet gleam brightly like polished bronze yet he wore no shoes and as Bethany watched in awe he began to speak … and this is what he said;
I am the Lord, the God of you father Abraham and the God of Issac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth and you will be spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you you go and I will bring you back into this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised. Gen 28:13-15 (NIV)
Bethany was amazed all of this but for a second was really confused at what was said for it seemed that the man was talking right to her. What was said did not make sense since she was not a “people”. As she turned and began to walk down the stairway of her dream suddenly everything made sense for their right behind her was the man whose head was sleeping on her. He had been there in the dream with her and apparently the glowing man had actually been speaking to him.
As the sun came up over the desolate field near Luz, the man using Bethany as a pillow awoke. “How awesome is this place he exclaimed, there is none like it. It is the gate to heaven” and with that he picked up Bethany, set her up on some other stones like a pillar and poured some oil from a pouch in his belt over her. As he left the desolate field that day he turned and looked back and decided to call the place Bethel. Bethany like that for Bethel was the name of her great grandmother. Then he made a vow. He said , “if God will watch over me on this journey and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear and safety so I can return to my fathers house then the man I have seen will be my God and this stone will be God’s house and I will give him 1/10th of all I have”. And with that he left.
Wow! Bethany exclaimed.. “What a dream”, or was it a dream ? The man was in the dream too .. or was he? Were we both actually there in heaven ?” Well he did say he thought this was heaven’s gate. Well it didn’t matter dream or real Bethany thought, either way this was going to be the finest story ever and she was going to pass it right on to Elmer. This one he would have to listen to .. but as she called his name, he said. Bethany,, not now I am busy telling our other relatives about the big heard of sheep that arrived at the well today. And with that he continued his story… Bethany sighed and once again to be nice started to listen to what he was saying.
Over the next few weeks Bethany tried again and again to get Elmer to listen to her story about the dream but each time he was too busy sharing about the event of the day at the well. Bethany soon gave up trying but one day, Elmer was telling a story about a traveler who came to the well. He said the man had come from far off and met a girl at the well who he immediately kissed because it seems he was related to the girls father and had come to seek a bride to marry from amongst his relatives, as Elmer went on to describe the man and what he said, Bethany realized that he was describing the same man that had slept on her that night and seen heaven with her. Elmer she said wait, I need to tell you about the man, you need to listen to what I saw.. Elmer abruptly responding, quit interrupting Bethany, this is a really good story about this man and this girl. You will really want o hear it. As Elmer continued to describe all the details of this mans trip and his unfolding relationships with the woman at the well, Bethany could no longer stand it. She summoned all her courage and all her strength and she shouted. Elmer, Elmer. Stop! What about HEAVEN! Do you care at all about HEAVEN!
* * *
Kids, The man in this story is named Jacob and despite getting a first hand view of Heaven in the Book of Genesis, chapter 28, he awakes and thinks only of how God will help him have food and clothes, gain a wife and return safely to his father. And just like Jacob this is how most young peoples journeys in life begin with a focus on God only for what he can do for us in this while in this world. Just like Elmer, people spent all their time discussing the dreary details of the day and often are so caught up in them they block out heaven.
We for me that is not enough, You see just like Bethany I want you to have a view of Heaven. A place so awesome and God so wonderful that it makes everything that happens in this world look like schoolwork.. you know ,.. boring and tedious and nothing anyone would actually talk about.
Do you have view of heaven ?
Read Matthew 6:25-33
In your life with God don’t forget about heaven. Learn about it and its awesomeness and keep you eyes focused on it. Seek first this kingdom of God and don’t worry about the little details of life. God will handle them. Instead store up for yourselves treasures in heaven not on earth when they will decay. Look to eternity and what will last for your life he is but a mist that will soon vanish and your real life in heaven will begin and when you have spent 10,000 years there you will have not one less day to spend their enjoying the Lord and the rewards of heaven.