THE SHORTEST DISTANCE TO HEAVEN

The path to heaven is measured by desire and not miles.

In many ways, prayer is simply an expression of our desire for God and His kingdom.  Often when we see someone in close fellowship with God, living in the transcendent realties of the kingdom, it stimulates our desire to do the same.  Jesus’ fellowship with the Father stimulated a desire in His disciples for God and His kingdom.  Jesus’ disciples asked, “Would you teach us Your way of prayer?”  (Luke 11:1 TVB)  Jesus answered the disciple’s request saying, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in Heaven.’”  (Luke 11:2 NKJV).  The “way of prayer” that Jesus taught begins by expressing the desire for communion with our Father in Heaven.

God is omnipresent—meaning He is infinitely present everywhere.  The Psalmist teaches that the reality of God’s omnipresence even penetrates hell. (Psalm 139:8) However, even though God is infinitely present everywhere, His presence is not infinitely experienced and enjoyed everywhere. 

The experience and enjoyment of the omnipresence of God is dependent on the spiritual condition of the human heart.

As Jesus teaches the disciples to pray, He not only teaches them to invoke the Father’s presence, but to invoke the Father’s presence as it is known, experienced, and enjoyed in Heaven.  To do so, to really experience the Jesus “way of prayer”, requires that the heart be conditioned by grace and transformed in the Father’s presence.  Jesus taught that this “way of prayer” begins with a desire for communion with God, specifically with a desire for fellowship with Him as Father, along with the desire for the glory that is enjoyed face-to-face with the Father in the reality of Heaven.  Implicit with these desires is the desire for a heart and life that is transformed by such reality.  This kind of praying longs for our union with God in Christ to be actualized “on earth as it is in Heaven” and leaves us yearning to say, “My will is Your will.  My word is Your word.  My works are Your works.”

Desire is a Portal

The author of the Cloud of Unknowing writes, “For in the realm of the spirit heaven is as near up as it is down, behind as before, to left or to right. The access to heaven is through desire. He who longs to be there really is there in spirit. The path to heaven is measured by desire and not by miles.”

The distance to Heaven cannot be measured in increments of space, like miles or kilometers.  Nor can the distance to Heaven be measure in increments of time, like hours or minutes. The distance to Heaven is measured in desire—a desire for God and communion with Him—a desire to be transformed by His love and presence.

Maximus the Confessor said, “All the virtues co-operate with the intellect to produce this intense longing for God, pure prayer above all. For by soaring towards God through this prayer the intellect rises above the realm of created beings.”

Think about that statement, it says that intense longing for God is “pure prayer above all” and that it “rises above the realm of created beings.”

Divine desire is a portal that can transport us to Heaven.  Desire is also a portal that can transport Heaven to us.  Jesus said, “Those who hunger for Him will always be filled.” (Luke 1:53 TPT)

In the minds of far too many Christians the quickest way to Heaven is physical death, but the Bible calls death an enemy. (1 Corinthians 15:26)  It’s sad that Christians have elevated the power of physical death beyond the power of God’s desire for His people as consummated in the expression of our desire for Him.

The Mirror of Desire

God desires us and gives us a desire for Him as a way of drawing us to Himself.  Author Carl McColman says, “Our yearning for God is a mirror image of God’s yearning for us. But we are the mirror—the yearning starts with God and arises within us as a response… God notices you first. You go about your life, having fun, doing your thing. And God longs for you; God loves you so much. But like any other would-be lover, God sets about trying to get your attention. Of course, being loving and kind, God will never force himself on you or anyone. God wants your free response to Divine love. So how does God “flirt” with you? Simply by giving you a taste of God’s own longing.”

This kind of desire contains no possibility of disappointment, since to possess it is to possess God Himself.  Why is the possession of this desire the possession of God?  Because it originates in Him.  The desire for God is begotten of God—it is born of Him.

Scripture teaches that God implants the desire for Himself in us so that He might take pleasure in us. (Philippians 2:13) 

If we desire God, then the desire that we have for God is really God placing the same longing that He has for us into our hearts—He allows us to feel what His longing for us—then His longing for us returns to Him in the form of our longing for Him.  If we take pleasure in God, then the pleasure that we have in God is really God placing the same pleasure that He takes in us into our hearts—He allows us to feel His pleasure for us—then His pleasure in us returns to Him in the form of our pleasure in Him.  This shared desire and pleasure causes us to experience the reality and the bliss of a mutually-indwelling relationship in Christ.

Circumvolution is the theological term for the circle of desire, pleasure, and bliss-filled relationship that can exist between God and the members of His family.  Regarding circumvolution, theologian Valdimir Lossky says, “In this glory, uniquely proper to Himself, God dwells in perfect felicity (intense happiness or ultimate bliss) above all glory… But as in His mercy and His infinite love He desires to communicate His blessedness, to create for Himself beings capable of sharing in the joyfulness of His glory… He bestows it, and those who become partakers thereof receive it, it returns to Him, and in this perpetual circumvolution… This is the uncreated and deifying grace, the portion of the saints of the Church in their life of union with God; this is the Kingdom of God where the righteous will shine forth as the sun.”

Once we realize that all of this desire and pleasure is actually Him working in us, then possession of the desire for God, and the pleasure we have in Him, can be seen as evidence of His abiding presence within.  The reality is, the more a person desires God, and the more a person takes pleasure in God, then the more he or she possesses God.

Perpetual Consuming Desire

In our union with God in Christ, a union that is actualized through prayer, it seems that God leaves a burning desire perpetually aflame within us.  St. John of the Cross said of this eternal longing, “Why, since you wounded this heart, don’t you heal it? And why, since you stole it from me, do you leave it so, and fail to carry off what you have stolen?”

Why indeed?  Because the perpetual flame of desire results in constant and complete satisfaction.  Jesus said, “Happy are you when you are consumed with hunger and desire, for that’s when you will be completely satisfied!” (Luke 6:21 TPT).

Gregory of Nyssa said, “The true vision of God consists in this, in never reaching satiety of the desire.  We ought always to look through the things that we can see and still be on fire with the desire to see more.  So let there be no limit to curtail our growth in the journey upwards to God.  This is because no limit to the Beautiful has been found nor can any satiety cut short the progress of the soul in its desire for the Beautiful.”

Until next time, may you have more kingdom reality, the joy-life of fellowshipping in the family of God, and “MAS FUEGO!” (MORE FIRE!”)

Your Apostolic Revivalists & Equippers,

Nathanael & Michelle Wolf

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