I had a bit of a moment at church Sunday morning. One of the songs we sang had a line “the King of Glory and of grace.” I thought to myself, as the song rolled on, that there is the spiritual grace which the writers probably intended, but there is physical grace as well. I don’t mean the sort of practical grace where you pay someone’s library fine for them, I mean grace in movement, like they say of dancers and swordfighters.
I have heard it said that since Christ was a carpenter before the start of His earthly ministry in a time when that was all manual labor, He most likely had a decent set of muscles. And, I don’t know about you, but I’ve thought about that moment of “arriving” in Heaven after I die, wondering how it will go.
So when I had that thought about physical grace, a scene flashed through my mind, a possibility, if you will. I’ll try to write it here as I saw it, but words don’t always capture the pictures and emotions in my head.
I become aware of a radical change. I am not where I used to be, where I was when I knew death was coming. I am not the same either. As I’m trying to sort out the new sensory information, blinking blurrily against the light, I hear a sound as of a massive crowd not quite hushed. I am standing now, beginning to look around, when suddenly my eyes catch on Him. He alone is sharply in focus and He’s striding toward me. I know Him instantly, my Savior and Lord. He wears a white robe, without seams, and it shows the shape of His strong shoulders. The grin on His face, the fluid grace in His movement, the sheer presence of Himself collides with my consciousness and suddenly I can’t breathe. I remember, faintly, this happening once or twice before, with men, when I must have caught just a glimpse of their reflection of His form.
Just as my knees start to go, He closes the last two strides in a rush and I’m wrapped in His arms. My breath returns in a gasp; I’m weeping now, scarcely able to believe it, while knowing the truth of it deep in my bones. He is still, warm, solid, real. He holds me close for a long moment and then bends to murmur in my ear “Welcome home, my love. Welcome home.”
Then I hear the triumphant roar of the surrounding cloud of witnesses.
I missed a line or two of the song after that, because I had to blink and swallow. I have no real idea if that’s how it will go. No idea if we’ll have bodies physical enough for hugging, or if a physical embodiment of the Son of Man will greet us when we arrive, or how that would even work. Maybe, since Heaven is eternal, time bends there in ways we can’t comprehend, so Jesus really could welcome each new saint. Maybe we’ll be disembodied and the meeting of presences will be so satisfying we won’t feel the lack of things like hugs.
I know there are people (and I am not one of them) who have made detailed studies of what Biblical information we have of Heaven. There are people who say they have seen it in near-death experiences. Probably there are strong opinions one way or the other – bodies or no bodies and what we may or may not be able to do with them. But we, I, really just can’t know for sure.
I do know I won’t be disappointed no matter what, harps or no harps. We’ll be in the presence of the Most High and that is truly enough. But an actual physical hug from Jesus (not as trivial as it may sound for someone whose love language is touch, at least one of her top two) is something I’ve wanted for a good long while now. He did once have a physical body, after all, and ascended into Heaven with some version of it. It would seem the only way it’s likely to happen is when I finally see my Savior’s face when I go to Glory.
I’ve thought before about how that scene might go, those initial moments in Heaven. But today was the first time I had the thought that grace can apply in more than one sense and that perhaps the grace of Jesus might take my breath away. It makes the thought of that welcome all the more poignant.
I also know that, whether He or anyone else actually says it, that sense of “welcome home” is something I truly look forward to. “Home” is complicated for MKs and other Global Nomads. There are so many layers to it, from the simple “where the majority of my stuff currently resides” or “where I slept last,” to the complex “where I spent most of my formative years” or “where I feel most welcomed and connected” – any of which, for us, may or may not match the country on your passport or the address you list as “home” when asked. In fact, those may be a half dozen different physical locations.
So, the idea of finally, permanently, coming home is alluring. No more people leaving, or you leaving them. (Though who’s to say we won’t travel there? There’s going to be an incredible amount of people to fit in the Father’s mansion if we all have physical bodies, so it might be big enough to travel in, in one fashion or another.) No more losing precious keepsakes with misplaced or stolen luggage. No more heartbreak knowing you will most likely never see your friends and classmates again. No more pulling up roots and being “the new kid.” No more goodbyes. Forever.
For me, that’s what that final “welcome home” means. To hear it from Jesus Himself, to see and feel and hug Him, would be all the sweeter.