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Is This Heaven? No, It's Fresno
by James R Fulton
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“They call it paradise I don't know why -
You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye”
“The Last Resort” – Eagles

What starts as great endeavors often brings the worse out in people. We call something paradise, the place to be, and soon after, the place that was once thought to be Heaven on Earth, turns out to be nothing more than the grass you left behind; the Shangri-La you found to rest your weary life now has a Starbucks and Mc Donald’s on the corner, meanwhile the Garden of Eden is a shopping mall at the end of town. So what can we conclude? You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.

No matter how pleasant or idealistic a certain place is, or what happens to it after the rush of humanity pulverizes the landscape, I have to ask: can any place be as pristine as it originally was? Perhaps not. Because with the popularity of a place, this often breeds contempt and compliancy among the residents of that place. What started out as a utopian ideal might end up as hell on Earth due to the corruption, greed, and exploitation of the land and of the people. In other words, why move a business to Endurance, Nevada when Endurance, Nevada nearest neighbor is four hours away. When Malibu, California has a beach and cool summer breezes. All that can be said is mankind is always searching for the elusive Paradise that always seems to be over the next hill.

So it stand to reason, that if we are to speak of the heavenlies as our paradise, untouched by human hands and sin, once we all get there, it will become as life as usual or as a pessimist would say - "some one else will try to throw their weight around and pollute the place at the expense of others." So why bother going there?

With the vast different ideas of what Heaven might be, we really have no clue of what Heaven actually is. For example: for the person who is caught up is lust, Heaven to them might be an orgasm for all eternity. Perhaps unending sexual encounters starting the moment you reach Heaven. For the addict, it’s the drug of their choice, whenever they want it and with no side effect. The business minded person who was a lion here on Earth would be able to create and sealed every deal that is made. But why is it we think of Heaven as a place where every wish will come true? For the person who is addicted to sex, why would their final reward be something that kept them from developing deeper relationships here on Earth? Or the drug addict – why would their final reward be something to keep them from feeling or experiencing any kind of life in eternity?

This is what I know so far – our sinful desires will not follow us to Heaven, but will lead us to Hell.

So the question now becomes when you think of Heaven, is it a place where wishes are granted or is a place with deeper meaning?

If you see endless clouds with various people floating around on them doing nothing, does that seem logical for a person that was given a mind to create and solve problems with? On the other hand, if you see angels just waiting on you, hand and wing as it were, to serve your every whim what was the purpose teaching you how to serve one another? Perhaps you see yourself as an angel, who knows? Let me add this to the mix – where is God in these images? After all, isn’t Heaven God’s dwelling place?

In these images, that I just described may appear to be pleasant on the surface. I almost described what a resort would be like, Club Med if you’ll like. However, after a while, wouldn’t even Club Med get boring? Imagine, a place void of God and nothing to do, no thinking allowed. Just sit around all eternity and do nothing. I think I just might have described what Hell is. I can’t think of a bigger angst then having a creative mind that craves to be exercised with experiences for all of your earthly life and then when you take your last breath here on earth, and step into eternity, you are told to leave you mind, the mind that God give you, at the gate with St. Pete – you won’t be needing it; I can’t think of a more tortuous act.

What I see, when I think of images of Heaven, (as if my images are better than any one else’s), are vast vistas of deliciously incredible views. I see the same colors as earthly life, but they have taken on a more vibrant hue that almost begs to be tasted. The air is so sweet that every time you breathe it in it satisfies your hunger. A new adventure to be done, oceans to be conquered, mountains to be scaled and God, our Father, is right there, in our midst, experiencing it with us. And we are worshipping our Father freely and willingly. Furthermore, that makes all the difference in the world between the “Last Resort” and what God has promise His children.

Heaven is our home and Heaven is real. It cannot be touched by the filth of our hearts or exploited by our desires because human hands didn’t build it nor established it. To be in Heaven is to be in the very presence of the one who made us. He built it for Him and it is the reward for a righteous soul who accepts His mercy and grace that was given on the cross of Calvary.

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