Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 18th, 2011
George Butterfield

Law School
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Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
[370] 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Psalm 34:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Matthew 6:24-34

Recently a friend sent me a copy of Todd Burpo’s book, Heaven is For Real. The sub-title of the book is A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. Todd Burpo is a Wesleyan pastor in Imperial, Nebraska, and the book is a quick read about the experiences of his family, especially his son, Colton. When my friend gave me the book he said he found it odd that the boy’s experience of heaven basically confirmed the theological positions of his pastor father but I read it anyway and found it quite fascinating. No matter what your opinion is of the basic thesis of the book, namely, that Colton went to heaven and then came back, it is a heartwarming story about a family struggling to save the life of their son and make the best of a very difficult and trying experience. I have thought a lot about why this little book became so popular. Then I had one of those “duh” moments when it dawned on me that people are curious about the unknown. King Saul went to a medium to find out what his future held. Intelligent, educated people read horoscopes and go to fortune tellers. Todd Burpo’s book describes how the family went to Colton over and over again to find out about heaven.

The first reading today is quite a contrast to this little book. The apostle Paul says that he was “caught up to the third heaven,” Paradise, and received visions and revelations of the Lord. He heard ineffable things which no one may utter. Paul does not give a single hint as to what he experienced there. Instead he says that God gave him a thorn in his flesh (whatever that was, we don’t know) to keep him from becoming too elated and boasting about his experience. He prayed that God would take this away but the answer to his prayer was that God’s grace is sufficient for him, that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. We are intrigued by horoscopes, mediums, and stories of going to heaven and returning. For some reason we reach out to these things to help us deal with our fear of the future. On the other hand, Paul says that it was a hard lesson to learn but he finally got it: God’s grace is sufficient. That is as much as we need to know about the future.

The psalmist states that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear God. God delivers his people. Nothing is lacking to the holy ones. Those who seek the Lord want for no good thing. You can summarize the message of the psalm as, “My grace is sufficient. Trust me.” It is an invitation and a challenge: taste (now) and see (now) the goodness of the Lord.

Finally, the Gospel lesson concludes with: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” Exactly how can I be sure of this? Do I check my horoscope, go to a seer, listen to preachers who predict the exact hour the world is going to end, or inquire about eschatology from a four-year-old who has been to heaven and back? No, we do not know the contours of the future. We do know that the birds are fed and the flowers are clothed and this through no work of their own. If this is the type of gracious Father that we have, then we can quit worrying about the future, the unknown, and pay attention to what is going on today.

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